Inmate gets more time for sending threatening letters to Butler County judge, female Supreme Court justices

Shawn Marshall BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Shawn Marshall BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

A man already in prison for rape and kidnapping was sentenced to an additional 46 months in prison recently for writing threatening letters, including at least one to a Butler County Common Pleas Court judge.

Shawn R. Marshall, 40, formerly of Akron, was sentenced for the new crimes in U.S. District Court last month.

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In 2016, Marshall was incarcerated in Lucasville, serving a 16-year sentence for rape and kidnapping. According to court documents, Marshall mailed a letter to Judge Keith Spaeth in April 2016 which contained the following threat: “In the name of Allah, I am going to hunt you down and cut your (expletive) head off,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. The letter was signed, “ISIS.”

Marshall had no connection to Butler County or to Spaeth, but saw the judge’s name on another inmate’s papers, according to court records.

In June 2016, Marshall mailed a second threatening letter, this time to the Ohio Supreme Court, threatening to rape the female justices on the court. Marshall included a drawing of an anarchist symbol that matches a tattoo on his chest, and also put bodily fluids wrapped in plastic in the envelope to help identify himself and make the threat more credible. DNA testing confirmed the bodily fluids belonged to Marshall.

During law enforcement interviews, Marshall admitted to sending threats to media outlets in Dayton and Cincinnati. He also admitted sending a letter to a Cleveland courthouse that included a mouse head.

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Marshall’s defense attorney said in a sentencing memorandum that Marshall suffers from mental illness and had been doing better while in the Butler County Jail because he is taking medication.

“Sadly, Mr. Marshall committed these offenses at a time in his life where he just wanted to stay in prison, but in a less dangerous setting,” Deborah Williams, a federal public defender, wrote in the motion. “While serving his state sentence he was placed in a facility where he received minimal or no services and the nature of the state convictions put him in fear for his life. He believed that a federal institution would be safer and would offer more programing and treatment.”

Williams said Marshall now realizes he must take medication and wants to experience life outside of prison.

But federal prosecutors pointed out Marshall’s violent past and violent acts he wrote in the letters.

“Marshall threatened violent and graphic injury and death to multiple judges – and sent bodily fluids to at least one set of victims to back it up,” wrote Jessica W. Knight, assistant United States attorney, in court documents. “ ... the letter to the female justices of the Ohio Supreme Court was thoughtful in referencing Marshall’s prior violent offense of rape, and the act of including his (bodily fluids) certainly meant there was time to think through his actions.

“In his letter to Judge Spaeth, he chose to reference ISIS – a known foreign terrorist organization that would certainly draw law enforcement’s attention and potentially increase fear and the validity of the threat to the recipient.”

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