FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4)- The attorney for a woman accused of sending threatening emails that led to a massive lockdown of Broward schools wants a change of venue for trial.
Ellisa Martinez’s attorney said her client could not get a fair trial in Fort Lauderdale and wants it moved to Miami. That’s because the e-mail affected more than 200,000 potential jurors in Broward.
“It cannot be disputed that the result of the email at issue in this case was widespread pandemonium throughout Broward County,” writes Kathleen Williams, Martinez’s attorney. “Any juror with school-age children would be prejudiced against Ms. Martinez and therefore unsuitable for service in this case. The same can be said for any juror who works in the school system, or who has a friend or family member working in the school system.”
All 300 county schools and several government buildings were placed on lockdown last November after an e-mail was sent to radio show host Joyce Kaufman. It warned that “something big” would happen at a government building or school.
The e-mail said the writer liked that Kaufman had encouraged people to “exercise our second amendment rights.” Martinez called the Pompano Beach station later that morning and claimed that her husband, Bill Johnson, was going to go to a school in Pembroke Pines and start shooting, according to federal authorities who said they traced the call.
The incident left 275,000 students on lockdown for several hours. The South Florida district is the nation’s sixth-largest.
Kaufman, 56, has been on South Florida radio for nearly 20 years. She “considers herself fiercely independent and is not ashamed of putting America first, like real liberals used to and our weak-kneed politicians and some so-called conservatives claim to,” according to her biography on the radio station’s website. She also carries a .357 magnum.
Kaufman, who stumped for Congressman Allen West during last fall’s campaign, stepped down as West’s chief of staff a day after the lockdown, saying she wanted to avoid any repercussions against him.
Kaufman believes the threat was sent to her in response to a comment she made during a political rally over the summer for West. The comment, which was replayed on MSNBC in the days preceding the threats, quoted Kaufman as saying, “if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
CBS4’s Carey Codd contributed to this report.