Ryan Newell, double-amputee war vet, pleads to lesser charge in Westboro Baptist Church stalking case

The Pitch/June 24, 2011

Ryan Newell, the wounded war vet accused of stalking Fred Phelps' gay-hating, soldier-funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church, has pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges.

The Wichita Eagle, citing Newell's attorney, reported that Newell pleaded guilty to lesser charges of false impersonation of an officer. Newell, 26, was facing charges of stalking, criminal use of weapons and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. He received two six-month sentences, but will actually go on two years of probation. This for following around members of the Westboro Baptist Church with a vehicle packed with weapons.

Newell, who lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2008, was arrested on November 30 in Sedgwick County after detectives found him in his vehicle outside Wichita City Hall with the following weapons: an M4 rifle, a .45-caliber Glock handgun and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun. He also had more than 90 rounds of ammo. Prior to Newell's arrest, the war vet had asked the Mulvane public-safety director about the police presence at the protest and claimed he was an ATF agent.

Sounds like the Westboro Baptist Church is pleased with the outcome (via the Eagle):

Westboro spokeswoman Margie Phelps said this afternoon: "We appreciate the work the District Attorney's Office did, and we're pleased with the outcome, and we hope Mr. Newell gets the help he needs. ... We're supposed to be merciful."

Newell had been receiving care at a VA hospital. I'm really surprised this doesn't happen more often. But really, it's a good thing it doesn't.

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