Streator man detained on charges of 7 death threats

‘I’m just going to (go) hunting and killing myself,’ man says in video clip played in court

Joseph A. Call

A Streator man charged with threatening to kill three La Salle County judges, three prosecutors and the public defender was ordered detained Tuesday in La Salle County Jail.

Joseph A. Call, 36, made his first appearance Tuesday in La Salle County Circuit Court since he was charged with seven counts of threatening a public official, Class 3 felony carrying a possible prison sentence of two to five years.

According to court records, Call is alleged to have taken to social media on May 3 and May 6 and issued death threats. Because none of the targeted individuals can participate in the case, La Salle County State’s Attorney Joe Navarro turned the case over to the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office.

Special prosecutor David Neal filed a verified petition Tuesday to deny Call pre-trial release. He termed Call “dangerous to specific people and the public in general.”

In open court, Neal showed a video clip in which Call filmed himself uttering threats against named individuals and, after asserting the courts cannot be trusted to police public officials, said in the video clip, “... so I’m just going to (go) hunting and killing myself.”

Neal also cited other comments in which Call threatened members of the public, insofar as he allegedly threatened to kill judges while on the bench and shrugging off the possibility of killing bystanders.

“We’re trying to prevent the next step,” Neal said. “That’s all that’s left.”

Call is alleged to have threatened La Salle County’s public defender, so Bureau County public defender Eric May was brought in to represent Call.

May said all defendants enjoy a presumption of pre-trial release, adding that said Neal failed to show a compelling case for overcoming Call’s right to go free. Additionally, he said, Neal failed to show that Call is a flight risk or that other pre-trial release conditions (electronic monitoring, for example) wouldn’t work.

May also said Call was medicated following a recent hospital stay and pronounced Call “very coherent” after his one-on-one conference. Call, he said, would voluntarily continue with in-patient treatment and has no felony record.

Call was brought in heavily manacled and fidgeted throughout the hearing. He did not speak, except to confirm his intent to apply for the services of the public defender.

La Salle County Circuit Judge Todd L. Martin, who was not among the targeted victims, said he examined Call’s recent criminal history and that Call previously violated his terms of release.

“In the last four years,” the judge ruled, “Mr. Call has had several trips to court and, although they’re not felony offenses, they’re fairly significant misdemeanor offenses including violation of pre-trial release.”

Martin added later, “I don’t believe they are meaningless rants. I believe they are threats that need to be taken seriously.”

Call will be back in court on May 30 and the next order of business may be finding another judge. Martin explained to Call that he was brought in due to the “emergency nature” of Tuesday’s hearing but also presumes that another judge would be brought in from outside the county.

Though Martin wasn’t targeted, three of the intended victims are his judicial peers and three more were his subordinates during a stint as La Salle County state’s attorney.

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