AURORA, Colo. - A "not guilty" plea has been entered for a man accused of threatening a Colorado lawmaker as the Legislature debated gun control.
A judge on Monday also set a Nov. 20 trial date for Franklin Sain. He is accused of sending profane and threatening emails and phone messages that were laced with racial slurs to Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora.
Sain is charged with attempting to influence a public official and harassment based on ethnicity. He has disputed sending all the messages.
Sain's attorney Siddhartha Rathod says he's hoping prosecutors drop the case. He says that while the emails were vile, they represent free speech protected under the Constitution. Rathod says Sain has apologized to Fields via email.
Prosecutors said the charges allege that between Feb. 13, 2013 and Feb. 21, Sain sent numerous threatening emails and a voice mail message with the intent to alter or affect Fields' opinion or action.
"The charges further allege that the communication was intended to intimidate or harass the victim because of her race," the Denver District Attorney's office said in a news release.
When two Denver police detectives interviewed Sain on Feb. 19 in his office, he admitted he had sent phone messages and emails to Fields, but added: "I didn't threaten her," the affidavit said.
In one message, Sain allegedly told Fields he hoped someone would "Gifords" her, an apparent reference to the shooting and wounding of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Sain also admitted to using profanity and "racist names" in the calls and emails, the affidavit said.
Sain's attorney says the messages were not threats, and are protected by free speech.
According to the affidavit, police suspect Sain also sent Fields an anonymous letter that refers to the lawmaker with the same obscene, racist phrase repeatedly used in emails and phone messages that Sain admitted sending to the lawmaker. The letter also contains a reference to "30 round magazines," a reference used in Sain's emails.
"I will keep my 30 round magazines. There will be blood! I'm coming for you (expletive)," states the letter, received at Fields' Capitol office on Feb. 21.
The letter names Fields and her daughter and states, "Death to Both."
Sain grew increasingly apologetic during follow-up phone calls with a detective, police said.
"I don't use that word when I talk. I'm not a racist. Those emails are not who I am," Sain told the detective during a phone conversation."
Talking about what motivated his phone calls and emails to Fields, Sain told police, "I'm just voicing some frustrations about a topic I consider sacred, especially after wearing a uniform and fighting for this country. When you have media pushing blame on gun owners, that just gets me emotional."
Sain was the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions Inc., an Englewood information technology company that does work for the government and health care companies. The company first announced on Facebook that he'd been suspended, then fired.