The attorney for the Oak Harbor man accused of a hate crime against a gay woman claimed that the case against his client was “political” and that he is being attacked for his religious beliefs.
Tyler Dinsmoor appeared in Island County Superior Court Tuesday via video from the county jail. He is being represented by Whidbey Island attorneys Brent Thompson and Craig Platt.
Following fiery arguments by Thompson, who repeatedly called Dinsmoor’s arrest “outrageous,” Superior Court Judge Christon Skinner reduced his bail from $1 million to a $150,000 secured cash or property bond. Skinner also ordered Dinsmoor to surrender any firearms he owns and to submit to a mental health evaluation before being released on bail.
Prosecutors charged Dinsmoor June 15 with the commission of a hate crime. The same day, Skinner authorized a $1 million arrest warrant on Dinsmoor based on the perceived threat of violence he posed to the community.
A detective’s report outlined Dinsmoor’s history of homophobic comments on social media. Dinsmoor often quoted or discussed the Bible in making comments in which he used homophonic slurs and wrote that members of the LGBTQ community deserved to die. Dinsmoor, for example, wrote that “all homosexuals are child-rapists in wait, and all (every single one) should be put to death immediately,” the report states.
Law enforcement was concerned about his posts, especially those that seemed to threaten violence against the Anacortes Pride Parade. The detective wrote that Dinsmoor posted an image of the Anacortes parade flyer with the comment “talk me out of it.” He also posted a Photoshopped image of a man with a shoulder holster pointing a handgun at a group of people who appear to be in a gay pride parade, the report states.
Dinsmoor wasn’t charged based on his online posts, however, but for allegedly yelling at a North Whidbey woman from a home across a road that “it used to be legal to kill gay people,” the report states.
Due to the nature of his threats, as well as a belief that he owns guns, law enforcement organized a large team — including two federal agencies, eight local law enforcement agencies, a negotiating team and a police helicopter — to arrest Dinsmoor June 17. He was taken into custody without incident.
Dinsmoor’s posts also include racist, sexist and anti-Semitic comments, the report indicates. He wrote that Black and white people should live in separate nations and that a “career woman” is useless and “an abomination.”
In court and in a motion, Thompson argued that Dinsmoor didn’t commit any crime, that there was no probable cause to hold him in jail and that he should be released on his personal recognizance. He said that Dinsmoor’s alleged threat to the woman may have been an overheard conversation he was having with someone else. He wrote that the alleged comment was protected speech and did not constitute a true threat. The alleged utterance, he wrote, was a “political viewpoint” that reflects “deeply held religious beliefs.
The attorney said Dinsmoor’s alleged comment came straight from the Bible and that Baptist pastors make the same kind of comments during sermons.
“The defense also seriously questions whether the state’s charging decision and its timing of execution of process was politically motivated, selective, discriminatory and improper,” he wrote in a motion. Dinsmoor was arrested on a Friday and held over the three-day weekend on the arrest warrant.
Deputy Prosector Michael Safstrom, on the other hand, said Dinsmoor crossed a line and committed a serious crime when he made the alleged threat. He said Dinsmoor was looking the woman in the eyes when he made the threat.
Thompson argued that Dinsmoor’s online comments were also protected speech and irrelevant to his alleged comment to the woman. He said the posts quoted in the detective’s report were taken out of context, misleading and “cherry picked.”
The attorney pointed out that Dinsmoor has no criminal history and has a good relationship with many people in the community, including neighbors. He submitted seven letters from residents who spoke of him being a peaceful neighbor, a valued member of the community and a loving father.
Dinsmoor was an aviation electronics technician in the Navy, was medically discharged after being diagnosed with PTSD and continues to receive VA disability, according to his attorney.
Safstrom, however, said the Navy had investigated Dinsmoor’s offensive online posts and that he could have faced being dishonorably discharged if he hadn’t been medically retired due to mental health concerns.
Skinner confirmed that there was probable cause to believe Dinsmoor committed a hate crime based on the “unprovoked threat that was alleged” and his targeting of the alleged victim based on her sexuality.
He read several of Dinsmoor’s posts about gay people, saying that the language created valid concerns that Dinsmoor posed a threat of violence to the community.
Nevertheless, Skinner cut Dinsmoor’s bail to $150,000.