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Indictment thrown out in Wayne Co. judge threat case

The indictment against a Cayuga County man accused of threatening to shoot a Wayne County judge has been dismissed, but the case will be resubmitted to a grand jury.

Ontario County Judge Brian Dennis dismissed the indictment against Joseph Wilmarth before a scheduled hearing Tuesday in Wayne County Court. The lone charge in the indictment is making a terroristic threat, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Wilmarth, 36, of Port Byron, was arrested on the charge in July by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. In a Facebook post, he is accused of threatening to shoot county Judge Daniel Barrett over family court litigation.

State police went to Wilmarth’s home, where he allegedly confronted them with a rifle before barricading himself inside his home. The standoff lasted several hours.

Wilmarth was later indicted by a Wayne County grand jury. In his decision, Dennis said the grand jury proceedings were legally insufficient to support the charge.

“There was insufficient, competent proof that the threat to put a bullet in the judge’s head was imminent, especially in light of the language used in the Facebook posting,” Dennis wrote.

The judge ruled that the grand jury proceeding was impaired in several ways, including that the district attorney read the felony complaint twice to the grand jury, once at the beginning and once at the end, which the judge said “improperly bolstered the presentation.”

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