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Two men accused of threatening officials in unrelated cases in Kaufman County, Texas, both say they are upstanding citizens who would never hurt anyone.
Investigators say Nick Morale, 56, of Terrell, phoned in a threat to a tip line established for the investigation into the deaths of the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife.
Morale told NBC 5 that he called the Crime Stoppers tip line with a warning, not a threat. He said he wanted to report a conversation he had with a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Paris, Texas, but ended up leaving a partial message because his dog knocked his phone from his hand.
He said the gang member told him that a judge and Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland were the targets of the Jan. 31 shooting that killed Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.
Morale said he chalked up the conversation to boastful ranting until McLelland and his wife were found shot to death in their home.
'The next victim'
Morale said he then decided to call Crime Stoppers to tell someone what he had heard. He said he called the tip line and said, "The next victim is judge" before his dog knocked the phone out of his hand. The phone fell two stories and broke, he said.
Robert Miller, 52, also of Terrell, was arrested Thursday on a charge of making a terroristic threat in connection with a Facebook posting and an email. Investigators said the posting made a threat to the safety of an assistant district attorney.
Miller said he sent what he called an op-ed about the Kaufman County courthouse and members of the district attorney's office to news media, including NBC 5. In an interview, he denied that the post was a threat of any kind.
The Facebook post contains harsh words for courthouse employees and warns that a specific assistant district attorney could be the next prosecutor targeted.
Miller said he only referred to the prosecutor by name because the person was listed third on the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office's website, beneath the names of McLelland and Hasse.
In the post, Miller suggested that the assistant district attorney seek other employment, perhaps in another state.
He said the post was his opinion and that interactions at the courthouse prompted him to write the post. It was only intended to be an expression of his First Amendment rights, he said.
Neither Miller nor Morale are suspects in the McLellands' deaths or are connected to them in any way, say authorities investigating the case.
Both say that the current climate of fear and a zero-tolerance stance for anything that can be construed as a threat against the courthouse is what landed them behind bars.
Miller and Morale are each being held on a single count of making a terroristic threat, which can carry state and federal penalties. Bond for each was set at $1 million.