Man accused of threatening to kill Wash. senator is released from jail after posting bail

By Shannon Dininny, AP
Friday, April 9, 2010

Man accused of threatening WA senator is released

YAKIMA, Wash. — A man accused of threatening to kill Washington Sen. Patty Murray over her support of health care reform was released from jail Friday after posting $20,000 bond.

U.S. District Judge James Hutton set the bond for Charles Alan Wilson after concluding the lifelong resident of the agricultural Yakima Valley poses no flight risk and has no history of violence.

“While the allegations are serious, and while they have a particular edge to them, I’m convinced that, again, conditions can be imposed to ensure the safety of the community,” Hutton said.

Wilson, 63, of Selah had been held at the Yakima County Jail since FBI agents arrested him Tuesday without incident at his home. Jail officials confirmed his release Friday.

Prosecutors allege Wilson left several voicemail messages laden with expletives, some of which included threats to Murray, between March 22 and April 4. He has been charged with one count of threatening a federal official but has not yet entered a plea.

The report of the threats came amid a rash of ugliness aimed at lawmakers who supported the sweeping federal health care legislation.

Under terms of his release, Wilson will be under curfew from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., cannot have firearms and can’t use alcohol. His whereabouts will be monitored electronically, and he is restricted to eastern Washington except for court appearances in Seattle.

Hutton also ordered Wilson not to contact any political officials or attend any political rally.

Prosecutors had asked that Wilson be detained until his next court appearance on April 21 in Seattle.

FBI agents said they confiscated several firearms, including a .38-caliber pistol, from Wilson during his arrest.

Matt McAlvanah, a spokesman for Murray, said the situation will not disrupt the schedule of the Democratic senator.

She “has complete confidence in Washington law enforcement officials, and will keep working for the people of Washington state,” McAlvanah said.

Tony Sandoval, a former Yakima County Democratic chairman, said he believed Wilson had attended at least one tea party rally in Yakima staged outside a Murray speaking engagement in recent weeks.

He also noted that while Murray may not live in Yakima, she likely will campaign in the area in the coming weeks.

Murray was first elected in 1992 and is seeking to retain her Senate seat.

“I’m going to talk to the state party and make sure they take precautions, because he’s not the only guy talking like this,” Sandoval said.

Wilson has three sons who live in western Washington. One declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Wilson’s sister Helen Evans said she was surprised by the allegations but would help her brother, who suffers from pain in his hands, back and legs from 40 years as a carpenter and maintenance worker.

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