Attorneys for a Queens man convicted of making online threats to kill prominent Democratic House members and Senators argued that he’s no longer a threat to society, offering as proof a comic book featuring convicted sex trafficker R. Kelly that he drew while behind bars.
Brendan Hunt, 37, a former court employee from Ridgewood, was found guilty in federal court back in April of lodging several violent threats online before and in the days after the Jan. 6 coup attempt on Capitol Hill, targeting the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Queens/Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Hunt faces up to five years behind bars, but in a memo submitted to the U.S. Eastern District Court in Brooklyn in advance of his scheduled Nov. 22 sentencing, his legal team argued that he deserves leniency, claiming that he’s “a very different man today than the one who posted the ‘Kill Your Senators’ video and took it down a few hours later.”
That video, which federal prosecutors said was viewed more than 500 times before it was taken offline, was posted two days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and sought further acts of violence on Jan. 20, the date of President Biden’s inauguration.
But in supporting their claim that Hunt has turned over a new leaf, attorneys Jan Rostal and Leticia Olivera of the Federal Defenders submitted comic strips that he drew while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Featuring R. Kelly, who was convicted in May on federal sex crimes charges, the “Prison Comics” depicts Hunt and the disgraced rap star working out and doing yoga while serving as bunkmates.
“These are comics and intended to be light,” they wrote. “But we think they capture something more profound about the humanizing communality that can be found even in the most dehumanizing conditions.”
Hunt’s attorneys claimed that the defendant’s 10 months at the MDC served to transform Hunt “not unlike someone at a boot camp,” adding that “he learned to normalize and adjust to the widely publicized injustices and mistreatment of inmates at MDC Brooklyn” while also learning “to look down, not ask questions, accept his subservience.”
Federal prosecutors, however, are neither amused by Hunt’s comics nor impressed by his attorneys’ claims of atonement.
In their own sentencing memorandum, the government argued that Hunt’s own testimony at his trial, in which he tried “to dismiss his vivid and violent threats against Members of Congress as mere ‘clickbait’ demonstrates that a substantial term of imprisonment is necessary to impress upon the defendant the seriousness of his offense.”
Prosecutors said that Hunt’s prior history — including a Facebook post made in December 2020 in which he threatened to stab his cousin’s child because that cousin unfriended him; and another post that month in which he allegedly called on Trump to seek “actual revenge on democrats” (sic) and to “hold a public execution of pelosi, aoc, schumer etc. (sic) — demonstrates a serious risk of recidivism.
“The defendant’s history of defiant behavior and demonstrated inability to control his anger indicate that he is a higher risk to re-offend,” prosecutors said, “and that a substantial term of imprisonment is warranted to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct and to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant.”