Leroy N. Soetoro
2020-03-06 21:33:01 UTC
A California man was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison
for using multiple Instagram accounts to harass the survivors and families
of students killed in the Parkland shooting massacre.
Brandon Fleury, 22, of Santa Ana, was convicted by a jury in October of
three counts of cyberstalking and one count of transmitting a kidnapping
Trial evidence showed that between December 2018 and January 2019, Fleury
used several Instagram accounts to threaten and harass families of victims
of the Valentine's Day 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School, which left 17 dead and 17 wounded.
In some messages, he claimed kinship with and even impersonated shooting
defendant Nikolas Cruz. In others, he invoked the names of infamous serial
killers such as Ted Bundy.
"I killed your loved ones hahaha," one message said. "Did you like my
Valentines gift? I killed your friends," said another.
One of his user names was "nikolas.cruz.killed.your.sister," court records
show. According to court documents, one message from that account said:
"Hahaha she had her whole life ahead of her and I STOLE IT FROM HER."
In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ajay Alexander said the victims
lived in constant fear that the individual bombarding them" with the
messages would follow in Cruz's footsteps.
"The victims deserve justice. They deserve to live in peace and with the
belief that they are safe and secure," Alexander said.
Authorities also found thousands of saved images of Bundy, images of the
targeted victims and screenshots of the messages that he had sent the
victims on Fleury's electronic devices.
There was ample testimony at Fleury's trial that he is autistic. His
attorney, Sabrina Puglisi, said she had hoped the judge would give greater
weight to his mental issues in imposing a sentence.
"I think that it's a high sentence given Brandon's background and other
similarly situated cases, but I believe that the judge felt the need to
have the sentence send a message to others that are out there on the
Internet doing this bad behavior," Puglisi said.
U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz, who imposed the sentence on Fleury,
rejected a request by prosecutors for the maximum 20-year sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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