PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The case of a man from Portland charged in connection with making threats to a group of children took an unexpected turn today in court.
32-year old Derek Weeks was expected to be arraigned on seven counts of criminal threatening following an incident which took place on the playground of Reiche Community school Wednesday afternoon.
As we have reported, Weeks' bail was originally set at $250,000 on the charges which are all misdemeanors. Today in court the judge agreed to lower to a fraction of that amount and as part of a procedural move by the prosecution, the charges went from seven to two.
The District Attorney says the charges were not dropped against Weeks, but they were consolidated in two different counts. Weeks pled not guilty to one count of criminal threatening and one count of interfering with constitutional and civil rights. Prosecutors say Weeks made racist statements and threatened to shoot seven 3rd through 5th graders who were participating in an after school program. Weeks allegedly also made a gesture with his hand, replicating a gun but no weapons were used or located.
Week's family members who attended the hearing say the charges are a misunderstanding, they say Week's does not have a violent past and as a father of three would never threaten children and has friends of color.
The district attorney could not explain why Weeks' bail was set so high only to be lowered drastically today. It's a decision made by the bail commissioner, she says because there were children allegedly involved could have been a factor. Now as condition of bail, Weeks can't have any contact with any of the alleged victims, he is barred from Reiche Community School and he can't have a firearm. Weeks is due back in court in April.