Man convicted over threatening call to elections official

DENVER (AP) – A man accused of making a threatening phone call to the office of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold last year has been convicted of one count of retaliation against an elected official, prosecutors said Thursday.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Kirk Wertz, 52, guilty of the felony count on Wednesday, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said.

Wertz was accused of calling Griswold’s office on June 30, 2022, and asking the call-taker to tell Griswold, the state’s top election official, that “the angel of death is coming for her in the name of Jesus Christ,” according to a court document explaining why he was arrested.

He was taken into custody in suburban Denver after investigators tracked his cell phone moving from Goodland, Kansas, to the Denver area, according to the document. When a trooper called Wertz back at the number he used to call Griswold’s office, he would not say whether he planned to physically hurt Griswold.

Wertz asked the trooper if he knew about the First Amendment and also said, “And I’m an Oath Taker and an Oath Keeper and I owe you no explanation.” The document did not elaborate on whether Wertz was affiliated with the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group.

The details about what he said to the call-taker and the state trooper who called him back were redacted from the document at the time of his arrest but have since been made available.

Wertz is represented by public defenders, who do not comment on cases. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.

Last year, a Nebraska man pleaded guilty in Denver federal court to making death threats to Griswold on social media. Officials said it was the first such plea obtained by a federal task force devoted to protecting elections workers across the U.S., who have been subject to increasing threats since the 2020 presidential election.

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