By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN— The Methuen High School student who has held been in jail for three weeks on charges related to a threatening post on his Facebook page, was in Salem Superior Court yesterday morning to ask again for his release, while civil liberties groups ratcheted up pressure to free him on First Amendment grounds.
Cameron D’Ambrosio, 18, asked Superior Court Judge John Lu to be released with conditions, such as a GPS monitoring bracelet, a prohibition on using computers, and checking in regularly with probation.
Judge Lu did not issue a ruling yesterday.
Geoffrey DuBosque, D’Ambrosio’s attorney, said yesterday D’Ambrosio is not a threat and is willing to submit to court-imposed restrictions for his release.
“My argument is, one, he’s not a danger, but if the court were to find he is a danger, there are conditions the court could impose,” DuBosque said.
D’Ambrosio on May 1 wrote on his Facebook page a profanity-laden post that said he would outdo the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, “be famous for rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!”
Students at Methuen High School, where D’Ambrosio is a senior, reported the post immediately to administrators, who alerted the school’s police officer. D’Ambrosio was arrested later that afternoon on Pleasant Street in Methuen.
Police searched D’Ambrosio, his book bag and his parent’s home, finding no weapons, manifestos or specific plans or threats to commit violence, DuBosque said.
“His house was searched and they found absolutely nothing in his house that was indicative of someone who is a danger,” he said. “They searched his book bag and his person when they arrested him and found nothing indicative of someone who is a danger.”
Prosecutors argued in Lawrence District Court earlier this month that D’Ambrosio’s comments constituted a threat to commit violence, and described past incidents of D’Ambrosio making over-the-top threats, including to his sister. He was arrested last year in that incident and .
DuBosque said yesterday that the post was not a threat to commit violence – no specific action, location or people were mentioned as a target – but rather lyrics in the often controversial rap tradition. And because there was not a specific threat, he added, the charge cannot stick.
“The statute requires the threat be that you’re going to place a device at a specific location and that was never said in the Facebook posting,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Boston civil liberties group said it has collected more than 55,000 signatures on an online petition calling for D’Ambrosio’s release. The Center for Rights collected signatures from around the country and plans to submit the petition either to a judge or to the district attorney.
Evan Greer, campaign manager for Center for Rights, said the group expects to collect more signatures and will decide soon when and to whom to submit it.
The online petition reads, “Posting lyrics on Facebook is not a crime. Jailing Cameron D’Ambrosio is a violation of the First Amendment. Release him to his family and protect free speech.”
Civil liberties activists sat with D’Ambrosio’s family in Salem Superior Court yesterday as support, he said.
D’Ambrosio, who has been in jail since his arrest May 1, is scheduled to appear in Lawrence District Court June 3 for a probable cause hearing.
Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.