Atheist in “Zombie Mohammed” Case Responds

Exclusive: After running the earlier story on the “Zombie Mohammed” case, I had the opportunity to speak to the victim, Ernie Perce. We previously discussed the remarks of Judge Mark Martin of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in the dismissal of a charge against Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who attacked Perce for insulting the Prophet. Perce was parading as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade when Elbayomy allegedly grabbed him. Elbayomy was at the parade with his family. Yet, it was Perce who ultimately came into a tongue lashing from Martin. Martin reportedly responded in a statement that I posted previously.

Perce, however, in our conversation added two interesting claims. First, while the judge insisted in his later statement that there was simply no witnesses to the incident to support the charge, Perce says that the person dressed as the Pope did appear in court to testify but Martin refused to allow him to testify. Perce notes that on 33:15 on the tape you can hear the witness (the VOmbie Pope) and the judge say, “put your hands down you’re not a witness.” Second, Martin refused to allow the admission of the cellphone video (though he did allow the admission of a statement of Perce on the YouTube video that Perce made later to show his alleged bias against Muslims).

This adds an interesting angle to Martin’s later statement that “All that aside, I’ve got two sides (of a) story that are in conflict with each other. I can’t believe that if there was this kind of conflict going on in the middle of the street and somebody didn’t step forward sooner to try and intervene that the police officer on the bicycle didn’t stop and say, ‘Hey, let’s break this up.’” If Perce is correct, the court had a contemporary witness and a videotape but decided not to hear that evidence. Moreover, Perce described to me an assault but merely harassing with the pulling off of his fake beard and rough handling by the defendant. Perce also stated that the sign itself was not in perfect condition as suggested by the court, but showed marks where it was used by the defendant who allegedly pulled the string against Perce’s neck. Putting aside the basis for an assault charge, it would seem that the video shows at a minimum an intent “to harass, annoy or alarm another person.”

I would be interested in the basis for the exclusion of a contemporaneous videotape. Clearly if it was altered and not the original, it would be hard to admit. However, the court does not mention either the issue of the videotape evidence or the witness in his later statement. There are reasons why witnesses and evidence can be barred in such circumstances, but it would be good to understand the reason in this case when the court is citing the lack of independent evidence.

Here the defendant admitted that he wanted to stop Perce and the videotape shows a scuffle. The judge says that he believes that the incident occurred. Yet, he stated:

In short, I based my decision on the fact that the Commonwealth failed to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the charge was just; I didn’t doubt that an incident occurred, but I was basically presented only with the victim’s version, the defendant’s version, and a very intact Styrofoam sign that the victim was wearing and claimed that the defendant had used to choke him. There so many inconsistencies, that there was no way that I was going to find the defendant guilty.

Perce’s new information raises legitimate questions over the basis for the dismissal. This is a pretty low-level court where the police officer rather than a prosecutor conducts the questioning. It is not clear whether the police department has the authority to seek review of the decision. Perce, of course, can always sue Elbayomy for assault, but he has time to make such a filing.

Perce also challenged the claims of the Judge that he never threatened jail for the release of the tape. He stated that the judge was irate and told him to destroy the tape and threatened a contempt sanction. Perce says that he asked what that sanction would be and the court alleged stated that it could be “jail or a fine.”

I have also been informed that both Perce and Martin have received death threats, which is a sad reflection on our society. Perce was exercising his free speech and this Judge was doing what he believed was required under the law. I obviously have questions about the decision and objections to some of the comments. However, there are some people who seem eager to add mindless threats and violence to such disagreements. The suggestion that Judge Martin was “applying Sharia” law in the United States is silly. He never suggested that he was applying the same standard or approved of putting people to death for insulting the Prophet. While I believe his comments were worthy of criticism, the attacks on his character and loyalty are grossly unfair.

I will be sharing more details as I learn them.

44 thoughts on “Atheist in “Zombie Mohammed” Case Responds”

  1. Blouise and Woosty,
    You slay me.
    Blouise No, it’s the kåt, cute, curt court. Translate it.
    He’s kåt (slang variant) for Islam. Do you know why he retracted the claim that he was a muslim, because retracting constitutes apostasy, which is punished by execution in Iran, etc. Many in Iran this year. Fun place.

  2. I got news which concerns surveillance, etc.
    Pardon, it’s off-topic just here, but here seems to where you are just now.

    I was on “Georgia”, followed AN link to domestic Drones article,
    came here, followed AN’s link to “hundreds of threats…”link to another site.

    What do I see: A google text ad offering FLIR sensor drones…….!
    Now I’m either paranoid, or Google is using their new contractual rights between services to watch what’s on one visited site to pick and display a related ad at the next site I visit.

    No, it ain’t BigBrother, it’s Google tipping off what BB can do and certainly does, ie track all we read, parse it for key ideas, and scan for key words. So when Google loads down, you don’t get to approve it doing so as with Itunes, with a new version a new invasion of your privacy can follow with it.

    Just so you can up your paranoia a bit if you are so inclined.

  3. Prof Turley, I was wondering if it would be possible to charge the Muslim attacker with perjury for his lying under oath that he never touched Mr. Perce? We have the video tape, his testimony, the cops testimony that the guy admitted to grabbing Perce, and even the defense attorney stated in his closing that there MAY have been an assault. How would one go about getting the DA to charge the guy for perjury or is there some way Perce could advance a charge on his own?

    This would be good since the perjury would be a felony charge and out of the court of the Muslim judge. A felony conviction would also force this Muslim fanatic out of the US and be deported back to whatever country he came from so he can call the cops to his hearts content when he sees blasphemy.

  4. The judge has missed his calling. He needs to go work for Breitbart and make phony videos. Better money, less scrutiny.

  5. Professor Turley, regarding the claim by Mr. Perce that the man who was marching with him in that parade and who was costumed as the zombie pope was there in the courtroom to testify but was denied by the judge the right to appear as a witness, while I am no lawyer, it is my understanding that a list of witnesses is supposed to be provided prior to the trial. Is this in fact the case? And if so, did Mr. Perce and Sgt. Curtis provide such a list to the court as required? If that is an actual requirement, it may be that they failed to do so and so the judge was right to refuse to hear the man’s testimony.

    I was initially as outraged as any when I began reading about this case online at various sources, but the more I read, and particularly the more I listened to the recording of the events of the trial provided by Mr. Perce, the more I have become convinced that he and his counsel, Sgt. Curtis, were alone responsible for their loss in court. While I believe that it was a complete overstepping of the limits of his official duties as a Magisterial District Judge to insert his own religious beliefs and opinions in lecturing Mr. Perce, based on the evidence actually presented to him in court I don’t see how Judge Martin could have ruled other than he did, much as it pains me to say that.

    I have seen the video made by Ernest Perce of the incident posted on YouTube, and rather than being grainy as some stories have it, it is simply too dark to make out any detail whatsoever. There are words and noises, and text inserted into the video by Perce describing what he says is happening, but the video itself is simply not worthy for admission as evidence of any kind in a court of law.

    Lacking that, the only other evidence introduced to the court were the testimonies of the two men, Perce and Elbayomy, and as such, the Judge did rightly rule that it was simply the case of one man’s word against anothers.

    I have to question why Sgt. Curtis was appearing to argue the case for Mr. Perce rather than an attorney. Is it the practice of Pennsylvania Magisterial District Courts that the police officer who responded to the call should then prosecute the case before the Court? I find that hard to believe. I can only conclude that they, Sgt. Curtis and Mr. Perce, simply blew their one good chance to counter the Judges ruling that it was a case of one man’s word against another by having Sgt. Curtis act as Mr. Perce’s attorney rather than acting as a sworn witness. Had he acted in that capacity instead, they would have had two sworn testimonies against Mr. Elbayomy rather than just one, Mr. Perces in his charge that Mr. Elbayomy laid hands on him, attempting to tear the false beard off and the sign from around his neck, and Sgt. Curtis’ sworn testimony that Mr. Elbayomy did admit to him as the responding police officer that night that he had indeed done so. The result was that Sgt. Curtis was instead reduced to impotently attempting as cross examiner to get Mr. Elbayomy to admit in court under oath that he had made that admission to him on the night in question; an attempt that was futile as we have heard.

    Judge Mark Martin grossly overstepped his bounds by lecturing to Mr. Perce in the matter of religion. He further used crude and very unprofessional language, “doofus” and “piss off.” But these are matters for whatever governing agency Pennsylvania might have in place to govern the behavior of sitting judges in a court of law, and I hope that they will act accordingly. In making his ruling, though, Judge Martin (and it really does pain me to call that man Judge) appears to be completely correct. Based on the evidence presented before him, if he indeed did not prevent Mr. Perce from providing witnesses on his behalf as legally permissable, then I think that he did rule as any judge would have had to rule, and dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

  6. Woosty,

    Sounds interesting. Can’t wait to see pictures of your costume!

    I’m sure Blouise will have a grand idea for her get-up too.

  7. Elaine M.1, February 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm


    I’m definity on for this…

    I’m thinkin a zombie, ultrasound wand weilding, Buddhist Nun car dealer….with a firehat!

  8. Looks more and more like jar-head justice. I still don’t know if Judge Martin is a lawyer but the more I read the less it sounds like it. My guess: he’s a right-wing, black or white thinker who believes his job is do what he thinks is “right.” That’s not how court’s work and plenty of times judges follow the law even though they personally would make a different choice. Judge Martin deserves every ounce of the he rebuke he’s getting but not the death threats. My guess is that he’ll be back in uniform soon enough and leave the lawyering and the judging to cooler and more competent minds. If not, I see lots of motions to recuse and even more appeals to the Court of Common Please. Those judges there don’t need that hassle and have a way of getting that point across to the electorate when election time rolls around in a small town.

  9. Next Halloween, I’m planning to dress up as a zombie GOP state legislator and chase female trick-or-treaters around with a vaginal ultrasound wand. Care to join me?

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