Spokane Man Claims He Is 'Embodiment Of God's Wrath'; Faces Sta - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Spokane Man Claims He Is 'Embodiment Of God's Wrath'; Faces Stalking Charge

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SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane man appeared in Federal Court on Tuesday to face stalking charges. But the hearing turned into a debate between Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudy Verschoor and Brent Russ's defense attorney, federal defender Andrea George, about the state of mental health in America, and the danger Russ, 33, posed to the community. Verschoor argued that Russ was delusional and a potential danger to the community. George said her client should be released to the care of his family, and given access to mental health facilities that could help with his mental state.

At the end of the hearing, Magistrate Judge John Rodgers determined George had not shown that her client was not a danger to the community, and ordered him to remain in custody until his trial.

Russ was arrested in September on a stalking charge, after a neighbor reported Russ was harassing her via mail and on the telephone. Because the stalking charge included inter-state allegations, the FBI began investigating. They took Russ into custody and served a search warrant on his home. In his home, FBI agents found a cache of modified firearms, tin foil on his windows and walls, and a journal in which Russ claims to be 'Azrael, the Arch Angel of Death' and 'the embodiment of God's wrath'. He also says his neighbor, described in court as L.M., is another angel, "Uriel", and the two of them are meant to join forces to face off against Lucifer and cleanse the earth of evil. In the same journal, Russ wrote that he was putting tinfoil on his walls to keep out Electromagnetic pulses from an entity that was trying to tell him what to do. The prosecutor noted this behavior matched similar behavior by the man who shot and killed 12 people at a Navy Yard near Washington, D.C..

In court on Tuesday, Verschoor argued that Russ should remain in custody because his mental state is questionable. Verschoor said Russ had several modified firearms, and, when asked after his arrest if he had another cache of firearms the Prosecutor said Russ would not answer. That means, according to Verschoor, there could be another cache of firearms that Russ has hidden away.

Verschoor also said, due to Russ's mental state, plus his possession of many firearms, he could be a danger to the community. Verschoor said in light of recent mass shootings, where the shooters were determined to have significant mental illnesses, it would be irresponsible to release Russ from custody, even with substantial release conditions.

Russ's defense attorney, Andrea George, then stood in front of Magistrate Judge Rodgers and argued that her client was not a threat to the community and should be released, albeit with strict release conditions. Then, in a move unusual for first appearances, she began calling Brent Russ's family members to the stand. Russ's Uncle, Aunt, a cousin, and his Grandfather all answered questions about Russ.

None had concern for their safety while he was around, none noticed any odd behavior in the days leading up to his arrest, and all said they would do everything in their power to ensure that if Russ were released he would be watched after.

After all the testimony from family, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudy Verschoor asked to speak again and Magistrate Judge Rodgers said, 'I think we've heard enough. This has been an exhaustive amount of evidence presented by both sides.' Magistrate Judge Rodgers then said that while Russ's fate will not be based on notorious events of the past, he does have some reservations about releasing him from custody.

Ultimately, Magistrate Judge Rodgers decided Brent Russ should remain in custody for two reasons: the first, in spite of a family that clearly seemed willing to go to great lengths to help him, the Judge felt they missed something in the months and weeks leading up to his arrest, and the discovery of his journal and firearms. Second, Magistrate Judge Rodgers said 'irrational behavior does not respond to rational conditions of release.' That means, even though very thorough release conditions may be put in place, Russ's mental state is such that there is no guarantee he will follow them despite his family's intervention.

Russ will remain in custody until his trial begins.

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