On Monday, Patrick Carlineo, 55, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. A day later, amid deliberations over his sentence, Rep. Omar sent a letter to the judge overseeing Carlineo’s case asking for “compassion,” and arguing that he should have the opportunity to “make amends and seek redemption.”
“Punishing the defendant with a lengthy prison sentence or a burdensome financial fine would not rehabilitate him. It would not repair the harm he has caused,” Omar wrote in the letter. “It would only increase his anger and resentment.”
Omar went on to say that threats of political violence are not new — and argued they are actually increasing in today’s political climate — but said they can’t be defeated with “anger and exclusion.”
In September, Omar said that President Trump put her life at risk when he retweeted a post which falsely alleged she was seen dancing on the anniversary of 9/11. (Following Trump’s tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested a review of the security measures put in place for Omar’s safety.)
She had previously also shared an example of other violent threats she received — one letter reading “you won’t die alone, if that matters” — on Twitter, writing that, “until deranged people like this stop threatening my life and the lives of others, I have to accept the reality of having security.”
According to the Associated Press, Carlineo, of Addison, New York, called Omar’s Congressional office on March 21. Speaking with a staffer, he called the congresswoman a terrorist and threatened to shoot her.
Carlineo also pled guilty to owning guns, in contravention of restrictions placed upon him after a 1998 felony criminal mischief conviction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York said on Monday. He will be sentenced in Feb. 2020, facing up to 10 years in prison.
His lawyer, Sonya Zoghlin, says that Carlineo is “passionate” about his right to express his political beliefs and argued that, despite his words, he never had any intention to actually hurt Omar. “He has taken responsibility for using threatening and inappropriate language to express those beliefs in this instance,” Zoghlin said in a statement to TIME.
“We certainly agree with and appreciate Congresswoman Omar’s recommendation that Mr. Carlineo be treated with compassion, rather than retribution,” Zoghlin’s statement continued. “She is absolutely correct that greater understanding and mutual respect is not furthered by incarceration.”
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