Saturday, May 8th, 2010
Judge drops inducing panic charge
By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - A first-degree misdemeanor charge of inducing panic filed against a 95-year-old Montezuma man was dismissed Friday morning in Celina Municipal Court.
James H. Dalton told Judge James Scheer he was only jesting when he made a comment to poll workers at Franklin School Tuesday afternoon that he might come back with a couple guns on his hips.
He reportedly felt the polling place where he had previously voted did not have adequate marking, telling authorities he drove around several times before going inside.
Mercer County Sheriff's deputies responded after being notified of the threat. The site was initially placed on lockdown with a deputy assigned to ensure the safety of poll workers, as well as people coming to vote.
Dalton was located at his home a short time later and taken to the Mercer County Adult Detention Center. He posted a $225 bond before being released into a son's custody on the condition he not be left alone before 8:30 p.m. Sheriff Jeff Grey said the timeframe allowed for the polls to close and workers to leave.
About a year ago, the sheriff's office received a report Dalton threatened a man fishing along a channel on his Windy Point property with getting a gun if he did not leave.
"I got a .22 pistol in a drawer," Dalton told the judge. "I put it in the drawer 40 years ago and I've never taken the thing out."
Scheer listened carefully to the man who reportedly has a heart condition, a pacemaker, two artificial hips and hearing aides.
"I think this is all a misunderstanding but it is probably not wise to say you're going to use a gun on somebody," the judge said. "I am going to dismiss the charge but maybe you should think more clearly before saying something about getting a gun."
A first-degree misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.