Erond Simmons was upset that a Family Court judge renewed a protection-from-abuse order against him by his estranged wife. On Oct. 1, he made a video of himself complaining about his wife and the judge.
“You dead,” Simmons says of Judge Christopher Mallios near the end of the 12-minute video, which was posted on YouTube.
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“Judge Mallios. You know what I mean. I read energy. C’mon, man. You can’t judge me,” Simmons says in the video. “You need suntan lotion.... Somebody that needs suntan lotion. All living things feed off the sun. You need suntan lotion. How you going to judge me?”
“You dead. Know what I mean? Dead man walking, man.... You can’t judge me.”
Simmons, 42, of Wynnefield, has been jailed since Monday. On Thursday, Common Pleas Court Judge Scott DiClaudio said he had ordered Simmons detained after learning of the alleged threat from a Philadelphia police detective assigned to the Homeland Security Unit.
Simmons is under DiClaudio’s supervision after having been sentenced to two years’ probation following his guilty plea in November to misdemeanor charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, fleeing from police, and criminal mischief. He commandeered a trash truck during the Broad Street Run on May 6, 2018.
DiClaudio had scheduled Thursday’s hearing to determine whether Simmons had violated the terms of his probation. He said he heard of Simmons’ alleged threat against Mallios on Sunday, when the Homeland Security detective called him.
He also said he had learned that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office declined to file charges against Simmons in connection with the alleged threat. Out of caution, DiClaudio said, he called a supervisor in the city’s probation department and ordered Simmons detained on a possible probation violation.
Simmons’ comments on the video “may or may not be threatening a judge’s life,” DiClaudio said, adding: “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Lyandra Retacco, supervisor of the district attorney’s Charging Unit, disputed DiClaudio’s statement that her unit had declined to charge Simmons.
“The issue really is with police officers accusing us of declining cases we have not declined,” she said in court. “He has not been declined.” Instead, she said, the matter “is still under investigation.”
The video was played in court on a computer screen at the prosecutors’ table. In it, Simmons, sitting on steps, shows viewers the renewed protection order and talks about wanting to see his son more often.
Retacco, whose late father was former Municipal Court Judge Louis G.F. Retacco, said that she sympathizes with judges but that the government should be careful about imposing a “chilling effect” on “dissenting speech.”
Simmons’ public defender, Alison Lipsky, argued that Simmons was expressing discontent but didn’t intend to harm Mallios. The Oct. 1 video and others Simmons posted under the title “Mirt the Narcissist” are “like a diary” for him, Lipsky said.
Considering that Simmons also said he is able to read energy in people and that all living things need sun, Lipsky argued that Simmons was saying that Mallios is “dead inside.”
Simmons, a tall, thin man wearing a gray sweatshirt and black exercise pants, told DiClaudio that his comment about Mallios “was just a metaphor, an allegory.”
“I was saying all living things need the sun, need suntan lotion,” he said.
DiClaudio said in court that he took Simmons’ comment about suntan lotion to be “racist” or “race-related,” and to mean that in Simmons’ view, white judges — Mallios and DiClaudio are white — shouldn’t be judging Simmons, who is black. Simmons agreed that that was what he meant.
DiClaudio deferred a ruling until Oct. 17 on whether Simmons’ comments constituted an actual threat, and if so, whether it violated his probation. He also ordered Simmons to undergo a mental-health evaluation.
“I want to make sure there’s no threat,” he said.