Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – It took all day Thursday for a Lexington County magistrate to seat a jury, hear arguments, and eventually turn the case over to the jury, but it took just a short while for that panel to decide that Christopher Raines, 43, a Lexington man who likes to call himself A.J. Blues, was guilty on the two charges brought against him for making perceived threats over a social media account he had in his name. He had been officially charged with threatening a public employee and unlawful communication according to arrest warrants. This is the second time that Raines will spend time in jail for saying and doing things that were considered threatening to people over the internet.
Raines’ favorite targets were the administrators of Lexington School District One, the students and staff at River Bluff High School, and government officials who he says have conspired with the teenagers to harass him and his family. Raines often dresses like Elwood Blues in black suits, a thin black tie, sunglasses, and a black hat. Elwood was portrayed in the classic film The Blues Brothers by actor Dan Ackroyd, and played alongside his fictional brother Jake Blues. Jake was portrayed in the film by John Belushi, who was an off-color character who also stayed in trouble with the law regularly. Lexington’s Raines, who did not wear the movie get-up in court Thursday, says that mostly teens have abused him and his family’s rights as property owners of land near River Bluff High School off Corley Mill Road. In past instances, it had been alleged that he may have even taken potshots at teens and others who were near his family’s land with a crossbow.
In March of 2018, deputies with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department arrested Raines after he made what was considered threats to a senior administrator with Lexington School District One, a private citizen, and a few government and community organizations in social media post. In one post, he included a link to a YouTube video titled “List of people who ought to be killed.” Raines had already served time in the Lexington County Detention Center for messages and posts considered threating to school board members and district officials, and students previously. He claimed that students from the high school trespassed on his family’s land, continually harassed them, and had even threatened to physically harm him and others in a campaign intended by students to drive them from the property that had been in the family long before the school existed. In one instance, Raines accused students of carving a likeness of his face into a pumpkin and placing it on his porch. When asked by a representative of the Lexington Ledger last spring if the carving looked like him, Raines said, “Yes, it was a very good carving of me, but I still felt that it was threatening to me and my family.” In other instances, he said that students were driving by his home in an orchestrated attempt at further harassment and had claimed that the teens were free to do so because their parents were politically connected or came from affluent families.
Before and after his first conviction, Raines had been ordered to stay off any Lexington School District One property, have no contact with school officials, and was being monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet. He was also told not to use his social media accounts, especially for the purpose of make ominous comments or threats against anyone associated with the government, the district, or the school. Raines had even filed to run for the SC House of Representatives, a seat Chris Wooten eventually won, and fancied himself a musician, political commentator, and talk show host over a social media feed where his favorite topic of discussion was politics and outlandish claims about how the government was run.
During the Thursday trial, Raines’ attorney argued that someone had hacked into his social media accounts and posted the link to the, “List of people who ought to be killed,” without his consent or knowledge. Raines even took the stand in his own defense claiming that he no longer used his social media accounts. He said he didn’t know exactly who had perpetrated the supposed hacking but has often claimed that the areas’ government and elected officials were in some dark conspiracy to frame and discredit him. Raines claimed they were using their connections with the area’s law enforcement to have their own children carry out the campaign of harassment against him and his family. In a defense that was described by one courtroom observer as surreal, the jury and people in the gallery were even shown a video of the infamous, off-color comedian George Carlin. Carlin, who died in 2008, and was best known for his black comedy and outrageous reflections on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various other taboo subjects. Carlin’s routines were often peppered with profanity and other methods intended to shock the audience, thus eliciting laughter. In the end, the judge nor jury saw nothing humorous about Raine’s actions, and in short order, convicted him on both counts against him. The presiding judge sentenced him to 30 days on each count to be served consecutively. He was immediately taken into custody and transported to the Lexington County Detention Center for booking.