A former CSU custodian who pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment was sentenced to five days in jail and a year of probation earlier this month.
Darren Morrison, 45, worked as a custodian in Parmelee hall until January 2007, after he was charged with harassment for sending threatening e-mails to Tom Mauser, a gun control activist who lost his son in the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre.
When he sent the e-mail threats, Morrison posed as Duncan Philp, a CSU alum and guns rights activist who had previously protested outside of Mauser’s home.
The e-mails sent to Mauser spoke of violence with a .50-caliber handgun and said things like: “I will disrupt your life, and I will be armed” and “I have a militia at my disposal, so be afraid. Be very, very afraid.”
The threatening e-mails sparked an FBI investigation and led investigators to Philp, who lives in Wyoming.
After a heated confrontation in which agents and officers had guns drawn at Philp, investigators were lead to CSU, where Morrison was still employed.
Morrison says he sent the e-mails to protect himself and his family from Philp, who he said threatened his life on an Internet forum.
Morrison and Philp first met through a gun rights group, and both frequently posted on the Web site of a guns rights group called the Tyranny Response Team, trtnational.com. It was there that Morrison says Philp posted what he believed to be a death threat.
Philp says he never threatened Morrison.
Morrison pleaded guilty to the harassment charge in Jefferson County Court in May and was sentenced on June 1 during an emotional hearing during which both Morrison and Mauser testified.
Morrison could not hold back tears as the judge spoke of the potential consequences of his actions.
“I deserve whatever you give me,” Morrison said through his sobs. “What I did is just inexcusable.”
After 30 seconds of silence, County Court Judge J.L. Archuleta sentenced Morrison to five days in Jefferson County jail.
Archuleta and Deputy District Attorney Patrick Fitz-Gerald said jail-time was imposed because of the severity of the threats Mauser received.
‘This case is just too serious,” Archuleta said. “You have crossed that line.”
“He (Morrison) took his disagreement with someone else (Philp) out on Mauser,” Fitz-Gerald said. “He used him (Mauser) to make it be taken more seriously.”
Morrison’s sentence included a year of probation, during which he prohibited from making any contact with Mauser, including through e-mail. His probation also stipulates that he is barred from making any Internet postings that directly or indirectly refer to Mauser and is not allowed to possess any firearms during his probation.
On top of jail time, Morrison is also required to serve 60 hours of community service.
“This harassment charge goes above and beyond the typical harassment charge,” Fitz Gerald said. “The community itself has suffered.”
In one of the e-mails, Morrison – posing as Philp – said he had a laser sight on his .50-caliber handgun and had used it to sight airplanes, which prompted Denver International Airport to go onto a heightened alert status for a day.
After the sentencing, Mauser said he felt the outcome of the case was appropriate.
“I thought this played out as a theatre of the absurd,” Mauser said. “I have a lot of pity for those two people (Morrison and Philp) and that they had to drag me into it.”
Mauser said, however, that he sympathized with Morrison’s family while he served his jail time.
“The message has to be gotten across that you can’t do this kind of thing,” Mauser said.
Philp said he was “somewhat pleased” with Morrison’s sentencing but that he would have liked to see a psychological evaluation ordered.
Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org