SLO man who threatened Women’s March organizers was caught with ammunition, DA says

Daniel Phares, right, pleaded no contest Oct. 30 to a misdemeanor charge of making a criminal threat. He’s pictured here at his August 2018 arraignment with public defender Jeremy Cutcher.
Daniel Phares, right, pleaded no contest Oct. 30 to a misdemeanor charge of making a criminal threat. He’s pictured here at his August 2018 arraignment with public defender Jeremy Cutcher. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A San Luis Obispo man who had to relinquish his guns and other weapons after being convicted of making online death threats against the organizers of a local vigil is now facing a felony charge after allegedly being caught with about 100 rounds of ammunition.

But the public defender representing Daniel Joshua Phares blamed his client’s recent charge on ignorance, saying his client was trying to sell the ammo after the court ordered he give up possession of his AR-15.

The District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed a single felony charge of unlawful possession of ammunition against Phares, 46, who was spared jail time in a plea deal in October for his previous misdemeanor charge of making criminal threats.

Phares has been in San Luis Obispo County Jail custody since Dec. 20, when he was arrested for the alleged probation violation.

Just two weeks earlier, Phares heckled the judge and prosecutor as he was sentenced to 18 months of formal supervised probation and ordered to undergo anger management treatment.

As another condition of his plea, Phares was ordered to give up possession of his three registered guns and other weapons — including an AR-15 rifle — for 10 years, and to write letters of apology to the three vigil organizers named as victims.

According to court documents, Phares was convicted of posting, “I will kill every one of you and make you like it” on the Facebook page of an August 2017 vigil at Mission Plaza to honor people affected by the violent protests last year in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A search of Phares’ Facebook page showed a years-long history of racist and anti-Islamic posts, in addition to strong support for veganism and environmental causes, according to past Tribune reports.

When Phares made several defiant outbursts during his sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle, who prosecuted the case, told the judge that he planned to ask for “substantial custody time” should Phares not abide by his requirements.

Judge Matthew Guerrero warned Phares that he could be booked into County Jail on a “flash incarceration” without a court hearing for up to 10 days if he is found in violation of his probation.

“Search away,” Phares told Guerrero. “I’m not afraid of being searched.”

On Wednesday, Phares appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit and pleaded not guilty to the felony ammunition charge. A further hearing was scheduled for Jan. 9.

Peuvrelle told Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett that Phares was found in possession of about 100 rounds of ammo for his relinquished AR-15 rifle, as well as an unspecified number of knives and a crossbow.

Peuvrelle asked that Garrett raise Phares’ bail to a total of $35,000.

“He clearly represents a danger,” Peuvrelle said.

But Phares’ attorney, Jim Royer, argued against the increased bail, telling Garrett that Phares is “a little naive about formal probation,” and was in the process of selling the bullets.

Royer also noted that Phares lives with his parents, owns his own landscaping business, and that the crossbow he was found with was a prop for a past Renaissance fair.

“I don’t believe he’s any danger,” Royer said.

But Garrett disagreed, finding “there is a public safety risk” and ordering Phares to remain in County Jail in lieu of $35,000 bail.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.