It was a bizarre day in a Minnehaha County courtroom as the man accused of stalking Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken was back in court. Only this time to face even more serious charges.
58-year-old Christopher Bruce made his first court appearance Wednesday on those new charges and rarely stopped talking throughout the proceedings.
Prosecutors changed their misdemeanor stalking charge to a felony after learning of Christopher Bruce’s prior harassment and stalking conviction out of Iowa in 2016, and that’s not all.
According to newly filed court papers, Bruce is accused of making statements about having the prosecutor killed to get rid of him, about leaving the country and about the judge going down.
“By South Dakota law you can enhance a stalking to a class six felony if you have a previous conviction because that qualified him for a class six felony, so that’s what he’s now charged with, we dismissed the prior misdemeanor allegation,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan said.
At first Bruce refused to come over for his initial appearance on the felony charge, but when he did, he put on a show. He was very disruptive throughout the proceedings talking over the judge and prosecutor numerous times several times he even swore, at one point he told the judge f*** you.
Don Jorgensen: I’ve never seen anything like that in my 30 years of reporting.
Aaron: I can’t comment on the defendant’s behavior, certainly the media was there to observe how the defendant acted and how he treated the court,” McGowan said.
On numerous occasions, Bruce told judge Eric Johnson that he doesn’t have jurisdiction over him and that he didn’t consent to these proceedings, nor did he understand the charges against him.
The previous misdemeanor charge stemmed from a couple of incidents.
According to court papers, Bruce sent Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken an email where he wrote “you can fight city hall, you just need a bigger gun, better bullets and harder armor.”
He’s also accused of sending another email to the city council saying “this is your notice that the next public input session is about to be the most explosive to date.”
The mayor’s deputy chief of staff, TJ Nelson was in the courtroom today, but refused to comment on the case as he walked out.
The judge set Bruce’s bond at $50,000 cash only, which Bruce questioned outloud, saying he didn’t have the previous $25,000 cash bond that was set last Friday, so why raise it.