Jack C. Guarino, a long-time critic of Lakewood city government and himself an unsuccessful City Council candidate, was found not guilty of making death threats against three public officials.
The acquittal occurred Sept. 20 in the Orange County Superior Courtroom of Judge Richard Weatherspoon. Guarino, 53, was arrested by sheriff's deputies Jan. 18 after a rambling message that allegedly contained death threats was left on the telephone answering machine of Press-Telegram reporter Richard Howland.
Guarino said: "I'm going to do a little killing," and then named Norwalk Superior Court Judge Robert Higa, Assemblyman Willard H. Murray (D-Compton) and Lakewood Assistant City Atty. Scott Nichols.
Guarino, who has tangled several times with Lakewood officials over a court order to clean up his yard, insisted that the word "killing" referred to political death. His message, he and his attorney pointed out, also said: "I won't have to fire a shot," and contained references to the three officials dying "on the vine."