The man who threatened to kill members of Women's March SLO on Facebook will not serve any jail time, despite concerns from the victims and the case's prosecutor that he isn't remorseful and doesn't understand the impact of his crime.
SLO County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guerrero sentenced 46-year-old Daniel Joshua Phares to three years of formal probation on Dec. 11. Phares pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of making criminal threats in October. Phares will also have to complete 10 hours of anger management classes, write letters of apology to each of his victims, and is banned from owning or possessing firearms, among other conditions of his probation.
Phares was arrested in August 2017 after he left a threatening comment directed at three members of the Women's March who were organizing a public rally against hate and racism in Mission Plaza. The rally, called Outshine the Darkness, was meant to be a local response to the deadly riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"I suggest you racist subhuman shitbags start contributing to something useful," the post stated. "I will kill every one of you and make you like it."
At the hearing, Women's March co-organizer Dawn Addis spoke on behalf of herself and the other victims of the threat. She thanked police investigators and prosecutors for believing them and taking their concerns about the threats seriously, and encouraged women and others who have been threatened or silenced to speak out.
"We are honest when we say that fear will not keep us quiet, or stop us from working toward a positive and just future for all," Addis said. "We don't act out of fear, we act in spite of it."
During the hearing, SLO County Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle raised concerns about Phares' commitment to serving his sentence. He told Guerrero that he was "disappointed" in Phares' actions since the plea, including allegedly posting on social media that he wouldn't participate in the required anger management classes. Addis and the two other Women's March SLO members shared similar concerns.
"We are not convinced that Mr. Phares realizes the harm that he has caused, and we are concerned that he has no interest in correcting his behavior," Addis said. "We hope we will be proven wrong."
Phares was combative at the hearing, refusing to give yes or no responses to questions from Guerrerro. In occasional outbursts at the judge and prosecutor, Phares referenced Andrew Holland, an inmate who died in SLO County Jail, and Marylin Pharis, a Santa Maria woman whose murder stoked national controversy over the issues of undocumented immigrant crime.
At the hearing, Peuvrelle said that the DA's office would seek "substantial" jail time if Phares fails to comply with the terms of his probation. Those terms also include a restraining order that bars Phares from any direct or indirect contact with the victims.
"I have no desire to talk to them," Phares said.
Phares' progress will be reviewed after 18 months, where a judge could order that his probation be reduced from formal to informal. Δ