This should be treated as a hate crime.
A preliminary hearing for a Twin Falls man charged with malicious harassment was postponed Thursday in order to allow the defendant time to find an attorney.
John Christopher Larsen, 42, appeared as his own defense in Twin Falls County 5th District Court to request time to find a lawyer, claiming he was denied a public defender.
Larsen was charged with felony harassment on Dec. 23 after he allegedly threatened a Muslim woman at the Twin Falls Walmart on Dec. 22. Witnesses told police that they heard Larsen yelling at the woman, saying Muslims didn’t belong in the U.S., and threatening her with a gun he said he was carrying under his shirt.
Larsen said Thursday he admitted himself into a psychiatric ward for three days following the incident, which had limited his time to find an attorney. Larsen said he had also requested his military records that would show he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.
Magistrate Judge Thomas Kershaw granted a continuance and reminded Larsen that he was under a “no contact” order, meaning he is not to contact the alleged victim, who was in attendance Thursday in court along with other witnesses.
Kershaw instructed Larsen to keep Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs informed on his progress in finding a lawyer because Kershaw didn’t want witnesses to show up again only to have the hearing postponed again.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled soon after a person is charged in order to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant a felony conviction. Continuances are often requested by attorneys to allow them to gather more information prior to a hearing.