A Lake County jury deliberated about two hours Wednesday before deciding a posting on a Web site constituted a threat against Stevenson High School.
Jeremie Dalin, 17, was convicted of falsely making a terrorist threat for an item he admits he put on a message board that features off-beat discussions. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced July 17.
Dalin showed no reaction when the verdict was read, but his parents, who were seated behind him in the courtroom, both began to weep.
Dalin, a former Barrington High School student, testified Wednesday that the message, which said that "many will die on 10/31" at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, was a work of fiction designed specifically for the message board.
Dalin said the site features discussions of violence, rape, inflicting injury and racial slurs that are viewed as humorous.
He said his goal when he posted the message Oct. 29 was to create something so outrageous that it would spark a multitude of responses.
By doing so, Dalin said, he hoped his posting would stay on the "top page" of the site, showing that it was the most popular item of the current discussion.
He said he had no idea there was a Adlai E. Stevenson High School less than 15 miles from his home in Fox River Grove and simply took the name from a list of schools he found on the Web.
However, a Stevenson student saw the posting and informed school officials, while the FBI and Lincolnshire police also investigated the incident.
Dalin admitted he had posted the message of concern but said he never intended for it to be taken seriously.
"We all know that after the fact he said it was a joke," Assistant State's Attorney Mary Stanton said in her closing argument.
"Ladies and gentlemen, guess what: There is no 'just kidding' defense."
But defense attorney Michael Levinsohn argued that the eight women and four men on the jury needed to consider the fact that by posting on that particular message board, Dalin was speaking to a particular group.
"It appears the people who go to this Web site think these things are funny," Levinsohn said. "That is Jeremie's audience."
He said messages such as the one Dalin posted are part and parcel of the discussions at the site and that similar messages are posted and discussed there daily.
Levinsohn told the jurors that his client could have been much more to the point if he was interested in making a threat.
"He did not post this at the school, he did not write it on the bathroom wall," Levinsohn said. "If someone was making a threat, they would send it to the school or send it to an administrator."
But Stanton told the jurors they should look at the posting in the light of the times in which we live.
"In today's world, you have to consider the context of what Jeremie Dalin typed up," Stanton said. "These words have meaning, they have very real meaning."