Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Court overturns conviction of man who threatened former NLV police chief

A federal appeals court panel Thursday reversed the conviction of a man who sent emails threatening former North Las Vegas Police Chief Joseph Forti.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Eric L. Christian, who was found guilty of transmitting two emails threatening to injure Forti in May 2009.

He also threatened Michael Davidson, the former chief deputy district attorney for the city.

Christian argued U.S. District Judge James Mahan was wrong in not allowing Christian to call psychologist Dr. Charles Colosimo to testify about the defendant's mental capacity.

Colosimo evaluated Christian in another unrelated case and found him not competent to stand trial.

Judge Mahan ruled that the psychologist had examined Christian for competency in that other case and had not examined him in this case with a different standard.

The federal court panel said Colosimo's diagnosis in the prior examination "would have been relevant and helpful to the jury in evaluating Christian's diminished capacity."

Christian maintained he had no specific intent to harm the police chief and chief deputy city attorney. He was upset about his car being repossessed several months prior.

He threatened to kill Davidson or a state judge if he did not get the car returned.

One of his emails to the police chief said "I will have to kill to retrieve my stolen and items (sic) if you do not retrieve them."

Forti and Davidson testified at the trial that they took the threats seriously and took steps to protect themselves.

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