A former MAGA-obsessed New York City court worker awaiting sentencing for calling for Democrats to be slaughtered has taken an unusual approach to pleading for freedom: drawing a comic strip portraying himself and convicted sex-offender R. Kelly working out behind bars.
Brendan Hunt, a 37-year-old who once worked as a New York State Office of Court Administration clerk and whose father served as a judge in Queens, was arrested by the FBI on January 19, the day before Biden’s inauguration. In June, a jury found him guilty of making a series of threats to kill members of Congress following President Joe Biden’s victory last November. The offense carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence.
“Trump, we want actual revenge on democrats,” Hunt wrote in a Dec. 6 Facebook post. “Meaning, we want you to hold a public execution of pelosi aoc schumer etc. And if you dont do it, the citizenry will. We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take america back!”
As first reported by the New York Daily News, while Hunt was detained in a Brooklyn federal jail, he shared a cell with R. Kelly, who was convicted in September of running a criminal enterprise devoted to helping him prey on young people.
Now, according to a motion filed Tuesday ahead of his Nov. 22 sentencing, Hunt made his celebrity cellmate the co-star of a jailhouse comic strip about the two transforming their physiques through yoga and aerobics.
In the motion, Hunt’s attorneys argued he has “emerged a far different man than the one who came into the criminal justice system on January 19, 2021,” and pointed to Hunt’s comics as proof of his rehabilitation during his stay in the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
“Putting his artistic talents to work, he created a Prison Comics strip, which has been enjoyed by many, and we offer a few episodes here as Exhibit F,” the filing states. “These are comics and intended to be light. But we think they capture something more profound about the humanizing communality that can be found even in the most dehumanizing conditions.”
Nicole Becker, who represented Kelly during his Brooklyn federal trial, told The Daily Beast she was “aware that a rendering was done by Mr. Hunt regarding his experiences in the MDC.”
“Those renderings were submitted as part of his sentencing memorandum. The rendering appears to show that Mr. Hunt, while a prisoner at the MDC, was motivated by Mr. Kelly to allow positive influences into his life, like exercise of both the brain and body,” she said.
In a sentencing memo, prosecutors asked for 51 to 63 months in prison. At trial, the government presented evidence showing that Hunt “had studied white supremacist and anti-Semitic symbols, propaganda and ideology in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, including by reading Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf,’ the website ‘Daily Stormer’ and ‘the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” The memo said that Hunt “downloaded the jailhouse manifesto of white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof” just days after Trump’s loss, which he blamed on immigrants.
Hunt also testified in his own defense during the trial, telling jurors he did not mean what he said in his social media posts—and blamed the inflammatory language on the pandemic and “a few bong rips.” He said the months of social isolation and “a lot of drinking and smoking” made him feel like he was “living in the Twilight Zone.”
But Hunt’s lawyers claim the one-time aspiring actor can use his creativity to better society, if only the judge will show mercy, stating, “Mr. Hunt has enormous artistic skills and that could be put to service to others.”
Hunt’s illustrated tales, however, don’t appear to exhibit evidence of personal growth, but rather a desire to bulk up his physique and get out of jail.
In the first example offered by Hunt’s defense team, he writes about working out with R. Kelly, whom he claims is “his sidekick.” In the first panel, Kelly tries to explain to Hunt that he is “the greatest R&B star in human history.” But Hunt’s character replies that he does not know any of Kelly’s music, saying none of the song titles Kelly is rattling off “ring a bell.”
“How can you not know of R. Kelly?!” the cartoon Kelly asks Hunt. “Millions of babies have been conceived to my records!!”
That’s when Kelly notices the book Hunt is holding: “Yoga 101,” and asks “What you lookin’ at there, kid??”
“It’s some weird yoga thing that my lawyer sent us…she said you and me should do these exercises together,” Hunt replies, prompting Kelly to scoff at the idea. Hunt also agrees that the two would “look like a couple of idiots.”
But after some thought, the cellmates dive in headfirst as they strike the Virabhadrasana, or “Warrior Pose,” while “I Believe I Can Fly” plays underneath.
In the comic strip, the pair then shift into the Downward Facing Dog pose, prompting Kelly to admit: “I feel very vulnerable right now.”
“Time for aerobics!” Hunt shouts to a panting Kelly. “Keep up, Kels! One...two…”
The pair then lock eyes and clasp hands, exclaiming in unison, “Workout pals!” The comic strip shows a correctional officer striding up to Hunt and Kelly’s cell a few days later.
“Ok, it’s rec time gentlem...woah!!” he shrieks upon catching sight of the pair’s now-heavily-muscled bodies.“Thanks officer, we’re ready...right, Kels??” says the hulking Hunt.
“Oh, yeah!” Kelly replies.“Wait til the guys in the yard see our gains!”
“This is gonna be awesome, R. ‘Celly!’” Hunt responds before they both walk out.
But the comic strip is not the only work of art Hunt’s lawyers included in his sentencing memo. A second strip, titled “Our hero discovers the secrets of Santeria!,” is described in the opening panel as “A micro-masterwork by Brendan Hunt” and follows Hunt on a quest to gain his release.
In it, Hunt is sharing a cell with a detainee named “Garcia,” whom Hunt observes talking to a small figure in his right hand. “Orshroom! Orshroom! Orshroom!” Garcia says to the figure which bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Potato Head.
“Um...are you feeling okay Garcia?” Hunt asks, prompting Garcia to respond: “I just made myself an idol to get me out of prison! His name is Oshroom! I feed him bananas!”
“Ha! That’s cute, but you got caught with four guns bro, you might be here for a while…” says Hunt. “This $#@* is no joke homie, you’ll see,” Garcia retorts.
In the next panel, a prison guard shouts through the door: “Garcia! You’ve been released… Let’s go!” “Told ya, bunky!” Garcia says on his way out the door.
The strip ends with Hunt sitting alone in his cell, reciting, “All hail Orshroom, lord of the bananas! I beseech thee…”
Jan Rostal, one of Hunt’s defense attorneys, told The Daily Beast in an email that Hunt’s comics “are meant to be tongue in cheek.”
“The bulk up and the powers of Santeria are exaggerated, I assure you! Our client is not alone in experiencing the dehumanizing extremes of jail, and because he can, he is drawing what he is seeing,” Rostal added. “These are the ‘fun’ ones but there are many dark ones depicting the horrors of incarceration, but he will save those for his prison activism stage, stay tuned.”