Michigan Lawmakers Decry Case Charging HIV-Positive Man With Terrorism for Biting

Charges Said to Misinterpret Meaning of Michigan State Terrorism Laws

A neighborhood tussle in October became an issue of terror when an HIV-positive man was charged with attempted bioterrorism for allegedly biting his neighbor while the two were fighting one another, the Michigan Messenger reports. Several Michigan lawmakers, speaking to Michigan Messenger reporter Todd Heywood, are critical of the charges.

"I think we need to put this in perspective in light of the tragic events at Fort Hood," State Sen. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit) said in an interview with Michigan Messenger, arguing that the charges are out of proportion. "That [Fort Hood event] should be investigated as terrorism. The magnitude of the instances is not even similar."

Michigan state terrorism law was amended in 2004, making it a crime to "have a harmful device, which is defined as either biological, chemical, electronic or radioactive."

After the man charged, Daniel Allen, publicly acknowledged his HIV-positive status, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith amended the charges against him to include "possession or use of a harmful device" based on the state's terrorism laws.

"If it was a fight and people were biting each other I would not think that is an appropriate charge," said State Rep. Rick Jones, a Republican and former Eaton County sheriff who sits on the Judiciary Committee, to Heywood. "I think you should able to be charged with attempt to transfer HIV if it can be shown in a court of law you made a genuine attempt to transfer [it]."

A number of HIV experts have stepped up to say that it is a near impossibility to spread HIV through a human bite, and that this case perpetuates the stigma against HIV-positive individuals. State Rep. Mark Meadows, who chairs the Judiciary Committee told Heywood the prosecution's case for terrorism is "silly" and that the legislature did not have a neighborhood fight in mind when drafting the terrorism laws.

"It's like saying that because I breathed on you and I have tuberculosis and we are fighting, that somehow because I have this disease it suddenly becomes more than just that I have this disease," said Meadows, a former assistant attorney general. "The other charges are more than sufficient to deal with the issues involved."