LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Prosecutors dismissed a felony charge against a western Kentucky man who spent more than a week in jail for posting violent song lyrics to his Facebook page.
The lyrics 31-year-old James E. Evans posted in August included the words “student bodies lying dead in the halls” and prompted complaints to school officials in Muhlenberg County.
He had posted a portion of the lyrics from the song “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)” by the California heavy metal band Exodus.
The band released a statement at the time of Evans’ arrest expressing disappointment over the criminal charge. Gary Holt, an Exodus guitarist, said the song was a response to the Virginia Tech University shootings that left 32 dead in 2007. The band stopped playing the song at concerts after the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Police charged Evans with terroristic threatening and he spent eight days in jail, because he said he could not afford the $1,000 cash bond.
The case attracted the attention of attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, who called for the charge to be dismissed. Kentucky ACLU attorney Bill Sharp said the court agreed to dismiss the charge on Monday.
Evans “is relieved that these very serious criminal charges have been dismissed, and he is grateful for all of the support he has received during this difficult time,” Sharp said in an emailed statement. A conviction on first-degree terroristic threatening could have landed Evans in jail for up to 10 years.
The ACLU argued that Evans’ posting counted as speech protected by the First Amendment.
Muhlenberg County Attorney Darris Russell did not return a phone message on Tuesday afternoon. Evans, who lives in Muhlenberg County, was charged by a law enforcement officer for the county school system.
Evans was arrested and jailed on Aug. 26 and released on Sept. 3.