Blogger who live-streamed police standoff is denied bail
By By Ian Duncan and The Baltimore Sun
Dec 05, 2012 | 8:25 PM
At a lively Central Booking hearing, a Baltimore judge denied bail to Frank James MacArthur, the local blogger who live-streamed a standoff with police on the Internet, two days after a different judge ordered him to be released.
MacArthur, 47, appeared Wednesday dressed in a yellow jumpsuit, his head shaved and his hands cuffed behind his back. District Judge Joan B. Gordon pointed to MacArthur's criminal history and apparent "violent and assaultive nature" as reasons for denying bail on gun charges filed against him late Monday.
Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore City Democrat and lawyer who has represented MacArthur in the past, called the conditions imposed by Gordon "kind of extreme."
MacArthur will likely be held until he has a preliminary hearing Jan. 4. MacArthur, who uses the handle Baltimore Spectator online, said he had hoped to delay the Wednesday hearing so that Carter would be able to represent him at a later date. Carter said she wasn't at the hearing because she understood from his family that he had another attorney.
MacArthur denied wrongdoing in an interview, and argued in court that his alleged crimes didn't have a victim, at times interrupting the judge. At one point, Gordon threatened to hold MacArthur in contempt of court.
"Have a seat and keep your mouth shut," she said after denying his bail.
On Monday, Circuit Judge Marcus Z. Shar had decided to release MacArthur on his own recognizance after his arrest Saturday, when he was served a warrant for allegedly failing to appear for a June probation violation hearing related to 2009 weapons charges. During the protracted standoff that night, he allegedly threatened police officers on Twitter.
MacArthur, who appeared Monday without an attorney, said he didn't receive an original summons because he had moved. He also argued that police could have served the warrant without surrounding his home.
"I accept your explanation with regards to why you did not appear," Shar said, according to a recording of the hearing. "And it seems you are visible, sufficiently visible, that you could have been located."
Shar allowed MacArthur to talk at length. And when a prosecutor told Shar that new charges were planned because police said they found a sawed-off shotgun in his home, MacArthur speculated that there was a plot to keep him locked up.
A pretrial services official on Wednesday listed an extensive criminal history for MacArthur, including arrests in California and convictions in Maryland. The official also said MacArthur had previously been committed to the state health department for a competency examination, but that its results were unavailable.
Talking to reporters before the Wednesday hearing, MacArthur said it was "hard to believe" that police found a firearm in his home that matched the description of one they had seized from him almost four years ago.
He hammered his familiar themes of being railroaded by police and the general deficiencies of the Baltimore Police Department. Some other detainees nodded in agreement as he described being held in the 2009 gun case until he agreed to enter a guilty plea.
"They can't catch murderers, but they caught me," he said. "Good job, Baltimore police."