Kingsport man who threatened president released from custody

Matthew Lane • Jan 19, 2007 at 11:09 AM

KINGSPORT - A Kingsport man who served 10 months in prison for threatening the president of the United States has completed his probation and will not serve any additional time in jail.

Curtis Andrew Backer was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Asheville, N.C., in June 2004 for making threats to kill President George W. Bush. Backer received a 10-month prison sentence followed by three years of supervised release beginning January 2005.

While on supervised release, prosecutors found Backer violated his probation seven times, and he was taken back into custody in July 2005. The violations included failing to meet his probation officer, disorderly conduct, evading arrest, marijuana use and driving on a revoked license.

Backer underwent a mental evaluation in the summer of 2005 to determine if he was competent to stand trial for the probation violation. The report found Backer lacked sufficient mental capacity to proceed to trial.

The warden of the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., found that "Backer suffers from a severe mental disease. His competency-related functioning is significantly impaired as a result of that disease."

However, when Backer told the court he desired to proceed to trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell issued a second, follow-up mental evaluation before proceeding to trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said that evaluation has been completed.

Rose said Backer has completed his supervised release, and the time he spent in custody satisfied the probation violations.

"He has been released. He spent time in custody while being evaluated," Rose said.

Backer's initial arrest on the charge of threatening the president dates back to Halloween morning 2003.

Court records state that a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper stopped Backer along Interstate 26 in Madison County after about a nine-mile pursuit. The trooper clocked Backer traveling about 112 mph in his Chevrolet pickup truck.

While en route to jail, the trooper asked Backer why he was traveling at such a high rate of speed. Backer replied, "I am headed to see the president to wish him a happy birthday."

Court records state Backer further told the trooper that he was Iranian and was a member of a terrorist group.

Once at the jail, Backer became agitated, saying, "Call Bush. He will come bail me out."

When a detention center officer told Backer that he didn't think the president was coming to bail him out, Backer said, "Well, I guess that's his life then isn't it?"

Detention center officers testified that Backer said on three different occasions that he was going to kill the president.

Backer was involuntarily committed to Broughton Mental Hospital in Morganton, N.C., for a 96-hour psychiatric evaluation. The results of the evaluation have been sealed.

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