A man claimed that lyrics posted on his Myspace page, in which he muses on slitting throats and choking, was artistic expression, and not a threat against his estranged girlfriend.
The Virginia Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that a threat is a threat, whether made online or in person. John Andrews-Collings Holcomb's earlier conviction of threatening bodily injury was upheld.
According to court papers, Holcomb, who lives in Virginia Beach, had been romantically involved with Miranda Rollman, and the two had a child together. But when the relationship fell apart, the two went to court to fight over custody. Court records say that around this time, in August of 2009, Holcomb wrote on his Myspace page:
"Custody battles, restraining orders, --- made me go mad I just had to stab her."
Other postings on the page said, "Blind now I see her true colors, on the front cover of the World's Most Murdered Mothers."
Rollman told the court that when she read the lyrics, she feared for her life and moved into her parent’s house, where they had a security camera. Court documents show Rollman said she was "scared that she was going to be killed, maimed," and she feared her daughter "was going to be kidnapped." She said parts of the lyrics made specific reference to her and her family, which made Rollman feel that she was the target of the violent writing.
In his defense, Holcomb said that the postings he made on Myspace were "just clever lyrics," and were meant to be "art." Although he wrote lyrics like, "Poof! Make ya daughter disappear like 2pac!" Rollman told the court that he never intended to carry out any violent actions. Holcomb also said that he did not invite Rollman or her family to view his Myspace page, and even tried to block Rollman from his site in September of 2009, a month after he put the lyrics up. Holcomb's defense also argued that Rollman could not view the Myspace page because she did not own a computer.
The Virginia court decided that it did not matter that Holcomb did not make the threats in person and that he did not direct his ex-girlfriend to go to his website. The fact that he posted the violence-laden "limericks" directed at her in the public forum of Myspace was enough: his original sentence of a year in jail for threatening was upheld.