BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A former Army infantry soldier described by prosecutors as a Satanist who hoped to overthrow the U.S. government endured a lifetime of victimization, isolation and trauma that led him to become involved with online extremist groups, his defense attorney argued Thursday in a motion seeking lenient punishment.
Jarrett William Smith, a private first class stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and previously at Fort Bliss, Texas, was discharged from the military after the 24-year-old admitted in February that he provided information about explosives in September to an FBI undercover agent.
At his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Smith faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine following his guilty pleas to two counts of distributing information related to explosives.
Federal public defender Rich Federico urged the court in his sentencing memorandum Thursday to impose 15 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. With no prior criminal history, the guideline range is 30-37 months in prison. Prosecutors have not yet filed their sentencing recommendation.
In a passionate court filing interspersed with photos of Smith’s life, his attorney recounted the near-daily barrage of bullying endured by a client who was born with the fiery red hair and a cleft lip and palate. Federico described the repeated, painful reconstructive surgeries and the speech therapy Smith underwent for his speech impediment.
When he was a freshman, Smith learned he had been on a classmate’s “hit list” as the intended target of a school shooting and related plot to bomb his high school. The attempt was thwarted after the classmate shot at and missed a high school resource officer and was caught with multiple pipe bombs in his bag.
Smith learned later that the classmate had written in a journal: “People would thank me for killing him” next to Smith’s name.
Federico told the court that “the emotional trauma of not only having been routinely bullied over his cleft lip and speech impediment for years by peers but also being targeted for murder by a classmate added significant trauma to Mr. Smith’s already deteriorating mental health and low self-esteem — trauma that was largely suppressed and remained unresolved.”
Smith found online communities surrounding new forms of faith that he began to explore, his attorney wrote. His years of rejection by his peers and yearning for inclusion made him “the perfect target for online extremists groups searching for new recruits.”