Things aren’t getting any better for a 19-year-old video gamer who has been locked up since March for the remarks he made over Facebook. The father of the teen now says his son is being beaten up while he waits to stand trial.
In an interview with National Public Radio that aired Wednesday, Jack Carter said his son Justin has suffered countless injuries since being locked up in a Texas detention facility more than three months ago.
"Without getting into the really nasty details, he's had concussions, black eyes, moved four times from base for his own protection," Jack Carter told NPR. "He's been put in solitary confinement, nude, for days on end because he's depressed. All of this is extremely traumatic to this kid. This is a horrible experience."
Prisoner abuse isn’t anything new, but the so-called crime that’s left Justin Carter facing potentially eight years in prison could be unprecedented. He’s been locked up without trial since late March after authorities were alerted to a Facebook message that Carter says he made in jest.
Only 18 at the time, Carter had just wrapped up session on the online role-playing game “League of Legends” when he got into a spat with a friend over Facebook. Speaking to KVUE news last month, his father explained how what was supposed to be a sarcastic remark posted publically ended up with an unexpected jail stint.
“Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,’” he called, “to which he replied 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.’”
According to Carter, he ended the quip with “LOL” and “JK”— Internet shorthand for “laugh out loud” and “just kidding,” respectively. A witness to the conversation in Canada became worried nonetheless and alerted the authorities, who then arrested Carter and charged him with making a terroristic threat. His bond was set at half-a-million-dollars and he spent more than three months awaiting trial before hearings were scheduled to start up earlier this week. According to NPR, Carter’s attorney has had the start date moved back to July 16 to bring up abuse complaints to try to get bond lowered.
Meanwhile, it hasn’t been a cushy time at Comal County Jail near San Antonio. Speaking to CNN earlier this week, Jack Carter described his son as “very depressed” and said “he’s pretty much lost all hope.”
“He's very scared and he's very concerned that he's not going to get out," Carter said.
Adding to NPR this week, the defendant’s father said his son has been “suffering quite a bit of abuse” and is “really sorry” for making what they say was a sarcastic comment.
“He just got caught up in the moment of the game and didn't think about the implications," Jack Carter told NPR.
A petition demanding Texas release Justin Carter from custody on the website Change.org has so far accumulated more than 45,000 signatures.