Grace, Velez-Mitchell identified as threat targets

Associated Press
This image provided by the Maricopa County Ariazona Sheriff’s Office shows the booking photo of David Lee Simpson. Simpson was booked Wednesday July 24, 2013 for making threats via twitter. Cable newscasters Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell were the victims of the online threats that the New York man made because he was upset with their coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, Arizona authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff’s Office)
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This image provided by the Maricopa County Ariazona Sheriff’s Office shows the booking photo of David …

PHOENIX (AP) — Cable newscasters Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell were the victims of online threats that a New York man made because he was upset with their coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, Arizona authorities said Wednesday.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Monday that David Lee Simpson, 48, of Bath, N.Y., had been arrested. Simpson was infatuated with Arias and became upset by comments that Grace and Velez-Mitchell made about her murder trial, Arpaio said.

The sheriff originally said he wouldn't release the TV anchors' names because Turner Broadcasting had asked his agency to withhold their identities. But Arpaio released a statement Wednesday that identified Grace and Velez-Mitchell as the target of the threats Simpson is accused of making on Twitter.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Brandon Jones said the anchors' names were released because a news organization had already identified them as the victims.

A Turner Broadcasting official declined to comment on any aspect of the case.

Simpson was indicted in Arizona on three counts of computer tampering and two counts of stalking. He also is accused of threatening a Phoenix woman who defended the anchors online.

Sheriff's deputies were expected to bring Simpson to Arizona on Wednesday night. Court records show he does not yet have a lawyer.

Arpaio says investigators found guns, handcuffs and other items in Simpson's car after he was arrested by Bath police and one of Arpaio's deputies who traveled there.

It wasn't immediately clear why Arpaio's office has jurisdiction in the case.

Earlier this year, a Maricopa County jury convicted Arias of murder in the death of her boyfriend Travis Alexander, but the jury later deadlocked in the sentencing phase of her trial.

A new jury could be impaneled to decide sometime in late September whether Arias should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

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