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Defense argues evidence in Reardon case

YOUNGSTOWN — Defense in the case of James Reardon, a New Middletown man accused of making threats of violence against the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, is asking evidence to be thrown out on the claim that it portrays Reardon in a “violent and negative way.”

Reardon is charged in federal court with transmitting an interstate communication threat and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Authorities were alerted of a video post Reardon allegedly made on social media site Instagram. In the July 11 video, Reardon is seen holding a rifle in multiple firing positions with audio of gunshots and sound effects of sirens and people screaming in the background.

The Instagram video is captioned: “the police have identified the shooter of the Youngstown Jewish Family Community Center as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon” — Seamus being a Gaelic version of the name James.

A search of Reardon’s residence revealed firearms including an MP-40, which is believed to be the weapon in the video, as well as an M-16 firearm, M-16 pellet gun, a bayonet and a knife, according to the motion.

His defense argues in its latest motion to the court that firearms seized in a search — except the one Reardon is allegedly holding in the Instagram video — should not be introduced as evidence because Reardon was not charged with a “firearm violation.”

“(Reardon) is charged with using a firearm during a crime, and the defense admits that evidence of that firearm can be admitted. However, the remaining weapons have nothing to do with the crime charged, and were all lawfully owned / possessed by (Reardon),” reads the motion. “They are attempting to portray Defendant in a violent and negative way, and in a circumstance when the crimes charged do not allege a weapon violation.”

In a second motion, also filed Monday, the defense also calls for the omission of character evidence that Reardon attended and did an interview with news media at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 — similarly saying the event happened prior to the alleged video and does not relate to Reardon’s charge of interstate threats.

“… the “story” of the crimes the government actually charged does not require a recounting of Mr. Reardon’s attendance at a rally, or any of the other bad acts alleged,” reads the second motion. “By allowing the government the ability to use this character evidence, the case will focus far less on legality than on morality — inviting the jury to convict Mr. Reardon for who he is and what he has done in the past rather than for committing the crimes as charged.”

The pair of motions say that a court may prohibit evidence if its value to the case is potentially outweighed by causing “unfair prejudice,” confusing the issues or misleading the jury.

Reardon’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 27 with a Jan. 14 final pretrial hearing.

avugrincic@tribtoday.com

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