Archive for the ‘Law’ Category


Friday, September 15th, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about redemption. What does it mean to be redeemed? Who decides when you’ve redeemed yourself? Can some people never be redeemed?

I will tell you now, I’m not sure that I have any answers. So I’m going to put a jump here: if you don’t want to read my meandering, you’re welcome to skip over it and go read “TMQ Watch” or “Gratuitous Gun Porn” or even the flaming hyenas entries. I won’t hold it against you.


Flaming hyenas watch.

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Sorry about the delay: this news broke last night while I was downtown at the cop shop and couldn’t blog.

The Travis County district attorney will not pursue, at least for now, the most serious charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, saying prosecutors have renewed their investigation into the travel vouchers at the heart of the 13 felony counts the Austin Democrat is facing.

The DA is still prosecuting two misdemeanor charges “relating to allegations of her using legislative staffers for personal gain”. The charges the DA is not pursuing at this time are felonies related to misuse of travel vouchers.

I don’t quite know what to make of this.

District Attorney Margaret Moore confirmed to the American-Statesman on Thursday that prosecutors have obtained new information relating to the vouchers, which Dukes is accused of falsifying for financial gain. But Moore declined to elaborate on what the new information is.
“The district attorney’s office recently received new, unexpected information pertinent to that case and the new information has created a need for further investigation by this office and the Texas Rangers,” Moore said.

“New information”. Is it exculpatory? It seems to me that if there was exculpatory evidence, Ms. Dukes and her legal team would have offered it in her defense a long damn time ago, as well as spreading it to every media outlet they could find.

If it’s not exculpatory, is the DA playing hardball again, trying to get her to take a plea? “Look, we’ve got new leads. We’re turning the Rangers loose again. Take a plea now, resign, and we drop charges. Otherwise, we’re going to dig up even more dirt and you can spend the next 28 years experiencing the joy of busting rocks.”

I don’t have any idea, and I don’t think anyone outside of the highest levels of the DA’s office does either. Buy popcorn futures.

Obit watch and random notes: September 14, 2017.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Obit watch: Pete Domenici, former Senator from New Mexico.

Long, but kind of fascinating, NYT article about the hunt for test models of the Avro Arrow.

For those of you who are not Canadian, the Avro Arrow was a legendary Canadian jet fighter project of the 1950s. It was pretty cutting edge for the time, but the project was cancelled in 1959.

In the decades since the program was abruptly dropped, the Arrow’s story has become one of Canada’s greatest bits of folklore, and not just among the military or aviation buffs sometimes known as Arrowheads.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine ran a good article about the Arrow some time ago, but I can’t find it on their website or in Google. Sigh.

Full internal affairs reports on Payne and Tracy, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request, found both officers violated five policies: conduct unbecoming of an officer; courtesy in public contacts; a policy that states misdemeanor citations should be used instead of arrest ”whenever possible”; violation of the department’s law enforcement code of ethics; and a city-mandated standards of conduct policy.

Remember, folks: that’s Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy of the Salt Lake City Police Department. Detective Jeff Payne also failed to file a “use of force” report, which is another policy violation.

Investigators wrote Payne’s conduct was ”inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrepute on both you as a Police Officer and on the Department as a whole.
“You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the Department in a manner that inspires the requisite trust, respect, and confidence,” the report adds.

And as for Lt. James Tracy:

Investigators took a similarly critical view of Tracy’s actions. They noted Wubbels had told them in an interview that she felt Tracy was “ultimately responsible for this incident.”
“[Y]our conduct, including both giving Det. Payne the order to arrest Ms. Wubbels and your subsequent telephone discussions with Hospital administrators, was discourteous and damages the positive working relationships the Department has worked hard to establish with the Hospital and other health care providers,” the report states.

And more:

The report says neither Tracy nor Payne fully understood current blood draw laws or hospital policies, and — unlike the nurse, Wubbels — they did not seek legal clarification from the department’s attorneys or other sources.
It also outlines how Payne visibly “lost control of his emotions” and his “self-control” over the course of the incident — yet no other law enforcement officers at the scene, including those from Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, thought to intervene.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

Obit watch: September 9, 2017.

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Dr. Jerry Pournelle, noted SF writer and longtime computer columnist for Byte magazine back in the day.

Official website. Lawrence. Borepatch.

I don’t have a lot to add here. I never met Dr. Pournelle, and I don’t think I’ve read any of his solo SF. I’m spotty on his collaborations with Larry Niven, though the ones I have read I think are better than Niven’s solo work.

I enjoyed his Byte column, though at the time some of his recurring tropes did kind of grate on my nerves. (See also: Gregg Easterbroook.)

(For the younger set, and/or those who may not know: the Internet Archive has a large digital collection of Byte.)

I’m very fond of Oath of Fealty. And I believe Lucifer’s Hammer has been a huge influence on a lot of people (including me, somewhat),

The only other thing I have to say is: I’m ordering a copy of The Survival of Freedom, as my personal tribute to the good doctor.

Also among the dead: Don Williams, noted country musician.

Troy Gentry, also a country musician with Montgomery Gentry, was killed in a helicopter crash yesterday.

And finally, Rick Stevens, not a country musician, but a funk-soul one. He sang with the group Tower of Power, and did the lead vocal on “You’re Still a Young Man” from the 1972 album “Bump City”.

Then he got into heroin and other drugs. Over about a two-day period in 1976, he killed three men. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but California declared the death penalty unconstitutional and he was resentenced to life. He was paroled in 2012 and started working again.

In January 2013 his old band brought him onstage at the Oakland club Yoshi’s to sing his signature song.
“When he got back onstage with Tower of Power for the first time in 40 years,” Mr. Maloney said, “he felt like he was levitating. That’s what he told me.”

While he was in prison, he became a Christian. He also did counseling and mentoring for other inmates, and formed prison bands.

He remained remorseful for the deadly events of 1976, which he said occurred during a time in his life when he was going from one drug high to another and not thinking clearly — “a jackass in a jumpsuit,” he would describe himself years later. When he began performing again after his release from prison he was realistic about his past.
“I know a lot of people won’t forget,” he said in a 2013 interview. “I won’t forget.”

Not exactly an obit, but:

Leslie Van Houten, who was convicted along with other members of Charles Manson’s cult in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, was granted parole Wednesday by a panel of state commissioners in Chino.

Her parole still has to be approved by the governor. Jerry Brown rejected her bid for parole last year.

Random jumbled notes: August 6, 2017.

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

I had no idea Tillman Fertitta could command that kind of money. (Also: the Rockets are worth more than the Clippers? And $85 million to $2.2 billion over 24 years? That’s an APR of about 14.5%, if I ran the numbers right. Anyone want to check me? ETA: Actually, I think I left a “0” off when I was doing the calculation the first time: it looks more like a 26% APR. ETA again: No, I was right the first time. I haven’t had enough coffee this morning.)

Speaking of return on investment, here’s a stock tip from WCD: sell this one short.

Over the past decade, the DNA laboratory in the office of […] chief medical examiner emerged as a pioneer in analyzing the most complicated evidence from crime scenes. It developed two techniques, which went beyond standard practice at the F.B.I. and other public labs, for making identifications from DNA samples that were tiny or that contained a mix of more than one person’s genetic material.

Now these DNA analysis methods are under the microscope, with scientists questioning their validity. In court testimony, a former lab official said she was fired for criticizing one method, and a former member of the […] Commission on Forensic Science said he had been wrong when he approved their use. The first expert witness allowed by a judge to examine the software source code behind one technique recently concluded that its accuracy “should be seriously questioned.”

A coalition of defense lawyers is asking the […] inspector general’s office — the designated watchdog for the state’s crime labs — to launch an inquiry into the use of the disputed analysis methods in thousands of criminal cases. While the inspector general has no jurisdiction over the court system, any finding of flaws with the DNA analysis could prompt an avalanche of litigation. Previous convictions could be revisited if the flawed evidence can be shown to have made a difference in the outcome.

“Oh, man, you’re not writing about the APD crime lab again, are you?” Actually, I’m not: this time, it’s the New York City DNA lab.

I still really would like to read an “explain like I’m five” piece from someone who really knows DNA and DNA testing. On the one hand, nobody (myself included) wants innocent people to go to jail. On the other hand, it increasingly seems to me like a lot of these issues resolve around subtle and sometimes disputed interpretations of statistics and statistical data.

This also points up something that I keep thinking about, and deserves a longer essay: how do we, and how should we, validate scientific investigative techniques used in criminal prosecution? It isn’t just DNA: how did comparative bullet-lead analysis ever become accepted? Or bite-mark analysis?

And what do we currently think we know, that ain’t necessarily so? Is there statistical evidence that supports the use of drug dogs, or is it possible that this is a “Clever Hans” phenomena? Has anybody ever done a controlled study?

The great Cardinals scandal of 2015 was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-tech sports cheating. (I know there’s a lot of biology and chemistry involved, but for some reason I don’t think of doping as “high-tech”.)

I’ve got a vague idea for a book series about a white hat computer security expert who specializes in investigating technological sports cheating: hacking other teams databases, abusing smart watches, maybe drone surveillance of practices, tapping into sideline radio communications…sort of a Myron Bolitar meets hacker riff. If anybody wants to take this idea, feel free.

Quick random notes: September 2, 2017.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Obit watch: Shelley Berman, noted stand-up comic.

Performing in upscale nightclubs and on concert stages, including Carnegie Hall at the height of his fame, he found humor in places where his borscht belt predecessors had never thought to look: ‘‘If you’ve never met a student from the University of Chicago, I’ll describe him to you. If you give him a glass of water, he says: ‘This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it is a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?’ And eventually he dies of thirst.”
“Sometimes,” Mr. Berman told The New York Times in 1970, “I’m so oblique, even I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I’m going to have to start using “Were you very fond of that cat?” in conversation.)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Before you answer that: the dinner is actually a testimonial being put on by an association of retired NYPD detectives. There will be two honorees:
John Russo, “who investigated the murder of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Howard Beach, Queens, last year.”

And the other one? Retired detective Louis Scarcella.

Mr. Hynes eventually helped to overturn the guilty verdict of David Ranta, partly blaming Mr. Scarcella for botching the murder case. When Mr. Thompson became the district attorney in 2014, he began a broad investigation — still ongoing — of what was ultimately more than 70 of Mr. Scarcella’s old cases. So far, prosecutors have reversed the convictions in eight of those cases, and judges have overturned another few, but the district attorney’s office has repeatedly maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.

The event’s sponsor is aware that Mr. Scarcella is a polarizing figure. John Wilde, the retired detective who organized the evening, claimed he chose to honor the detective not in spite of the controversy, but because of it.
Mr. Scarcella did not prosecute the defendants who ended up in prison; he investigated and arrested them, Mr. Wilde said. Many people had a hand in the convictions that went wrong, but at least so far, Mr. Wilde added, only Mr. Scarcella has gotten any blame for the cases, and the ordeal has taken a toll.

Just as a reminder:

Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.

This is intended to enrage you. (#8 in a series)

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I don’t post every “bad cop, no doughnut” incident here because I just don’t have time. There’s only 24 hours in the day, and I have to work to pay bills and sleep so I can go to work to pay bills and then there’s all that time I spend in the opium den. (Heroin is déclassé. The true gentleman smokes opium.)

But this one set my teeth on edge.

Utah cop wants to draw blood from a hospital patient who was badly injured in an accident. Patient is not under arrest, is not a suspect (his truck was hit head-on by a fleeing suspect who died in the crash), police officer has no warrant, and patient is unconscious so he can’t provide consent.

Nurse says, “I’m sorry, but you can’t do that. It’s against hospital policy, and it’s against the law.”

Cop arrests nurse.

“So why don’t we just write a search warrant,” the officer wearing the body camera says to Payne.
“They don’t have PC,” Payne responds, using the abbreviation for probable cause, which police must have to get a warrant for search and seizure. He adds that he plans to arrest the nurse if she doesn’t allow him to draw blood. “I’ve never gone this far,” he says.

After the arrest:

Another officer arrives and tells her she should have allowed Payne to collect the samples he asked for. He says she obstructed justice and prevented Payne from doing his job.
“I’m also obligated to my patients,” she tells the officer. “It’s not up to me.”

This is one of those things I hear a lot in my CPA classes and on the Internet: “Even if you think the officer is wrong, go ahead and comply. You’re not going to win the argument in the field.” And I can kind of agree with that. Sometimes.

But there are cases like this one where you have to take a stand. Even if it means being handcuffed. Even if it means going to jail. Even if it means a beating. Maybe this is part of your oath as a health care professional. Or just simply a matter of taking a stand when somebody else can’t.

And it wasn’t just a matter of hospital policy conflicting with the law:

In Thursday’s news conference, Wubbels’s attorney Karra Porter said that Payne believed he was authorized to collect the blood under “implied consent,” according to the Tribune. But Porter said “implied consent” law changed in Utah a decade ago. And in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests were illegal. Porter called Wubbels’s arrest unlawful.
“The law is well-established. And it’s not what we were hearing in the video,” she said. “I don’t know what was driving this situation.”

The officer in question is Detective Jeff Payne. Remember that name: Detective Jeff Payne.

Salt Lake police spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer told local media that Payne had been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit but remained on active duty. Shearer said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown had seen the video and called it “very alarming,” according to the Deseret News.

According to Reason:

Payne also said it was his watch commander, Lt. James Tracy, who told him to arrest Wubbels if she refused to draw blood.

Remember that name, too. Lt. James Tracy. (And Payne doesn’t get a pass because his watch commander said to do this: “I was just following orders” hasn’t flown since Nuremberg.)

Alex Wubbels, the nurse, is actually taking a more moderate position than I would.

For now, Wubbels is not taking any legal action against police. But she’s not ruling it out.
“I want to see people do the right thing first and I want to see this be a civil discourse,” she said Thursday, according to the Deseret News. “If that’s not something that’s going to happen and there is refusal to acknowledge the need for growth and the need for re-education, then we will likely be forced to take that type of step. But people need to know that this is out there.”

I hope she does sue. I hope she sues the department and Lt. James Tracy and Detective Jeff Payne in their individual capacities. I hope Lt. James Tracy and Detective Jeff Payne are stripped of their qualified immunity. I hope they are bankrupted and fired from the Salt Lake City police force. I would like to see them criminally prosecuted and stripped of their law enforcement licenses, though I’m not sure what charges could be brought against them. (Federal civil rights violations?)

Bad writer! No cookie!

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Fan fiction isn’t my cup of tea. If you enjoy it, more power to you. And I don’t like making fun of other writers for being supposedly “bad”: it feels kind of like throwing rocks from inside my glass house.

But I ran across a discussion of this work of fan fiction while looking into something else (I’ll get into that “something else” later) and thought it was worth mentioning here. Especially for all you “The Eye of Aragon” fans.

“My Immortal” by “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” is a work of Harry Potter fan fiction. With vampires.

… the story centers on a 17-year-old female vampire, a non-canonical character, and her relationships with the characters of the Harry Potter series, most notably her romantic relationship with Draco Malfoy.


The protagonist of the story is Ebony (occasionally Enoby, Evony, or Egogy) Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way, a seventeen-year-old vampire who attends Hogwarts (located in England instead of originally Scotland) as a member of Slytherin House. Hogwarts is depicted as being divided between two cliques, the goths and the preps. Ebony and all the sympathetic characters are part of the goth clique while the members of the prep clique are portrayed unsympathetically. Many of the main characters of Harry Potter are given “goffik” [sic] makeovers, moved to the Slytherin House, and renamed.

And it gets crazier from there. Draco Malfoy is bisexual, Harry Potter is a vampire, “there is also an unexplained cameo by a gothic Marty McFly, with the DeLorean time machine able to transform into an iPod.”

Also, the author can’t spell:

A third plot point sees Professor McGonagall (often referred to as “McGoogle” or “McGoggles”) and Severus Snape (often called “Snap”, or “Snope” at times) attempting to rape or harm the protagonists. Yet another plot point follow Remus Lupin and Snape being bisexuals who spy on Ebony, at one point resulting in a moment shortly after Draco’s “death” where they are sitting on their broomsticks with “Loopin masticating [sic]” to Ebony bathing.

This was originally published in 44 chapters to The author claims that chapters 39 and 40 were actually written by someone who hacked into their account. And the author also apparently had a falling-out of sorts with “their editor” somewhere around chapter 12. (Personally, the most amazing part to me is that the author had an editor.)

“My Immortal” is no longer on, though copies are still circulating. I haven’t found one yet. If I do, I am tempted to give it a shot. The 44 chapters total to about 22,000 words, so it shouldn’t take too long to struggle through.

But what’s the rest of the story? How did this come to my attention, and why am I interested? Well, there are rumors floating around – based on supposed similarities in the writing – that “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” is actually Lani Sarem, author of the “New York Times bestseller” Handbook for Mortals.


Obit watch: August 26, 2017.

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Charlie Robertson, two term mayor of York, PA, has died at the age 83.

In July of 1969. Mr. Robertson was a patrol officer on the York police force. There was massive racial unrest going on in York. Another York PD officer, Henry C. Schaad, was shot and died of his injuries two weeks later.

On the night of July 21st, a woman named Lillie Belle Allen, who was visiting from out of town, was shot and killed. She was going to buy groceries with some of her family when their car was ambushed.

More than one hundred rounds were fired at the car, and Allen was shot by several different types of bullets.

Both of these cases languished until 1999, when the local papers published a 30-year retrospective on the riots. People started coming forward with new information, and the local DA reopened the case.

As a result of the new investigation, Mayor Robertson was charged with murder. He’d just won the Democratic primary and was running for a third term, but dropped out of the race after being indicted. Nine other men were charged with crimes as well.

Prosecutors had argued that Mr. Robertson gave ammunition to at least one of the gunmen to avenge Patrolman Schaad’s shooting three days earlier. A co-defendant who pleaded guilty in the case, Rick Knouse, testified that Mr. Robertson had given him rifle bullets and told him to kill as many black people as he could.
Mr. Robertson admitted that he had shouted “White power!” at a gang rally in a city park a day earlier, but he denied the other accusations. He was the first officer to arrive at the scene of the shooting, but neither he nor three other officers disarmed gang members, took witness statements or filed a report.

Seven of the ten men who were indicted pled guilty to lesser charges. Mr. Robertson and two other men went to trial. The two other men, Gregory H. Neff and Robert N. Messersmith, were found guilty of second degree murder.

Mr. Robertson was acquitted.

In case you were wondering, the investigation into Officer Schaad’s death was also reopened. Two other men, Stephen Freeland and Leon Wright, were charged in that case and convicted of second degree murder as well.

1969 York race riot on Wikipedia.

Also among the dead: Cecil D. Andrus, former interior secretary under President Carter.

Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#4 in a series).

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

I ran across this one at Half-Price a few weeks ago. It was a little more expensive than I would have liked, but not signed Capstick level. I vacillated on it, but ended up pulling the trigger because:

  1. It is the only copy of this book I’ve ever seen.
  2. It was published by a small press, so it probably isn’t that common.
  3. It was still cheap relative to Amazon asking prices.
  4. I’d actually read about the subject, and the book itself, in Bill James’s Popular Crime. This is a case (kind of like guns) where I paid as much for the story behind the book as the book itself.

He Made It Safe to Murder: The Life of Moman Pruiett by Howard K. Berry.

Who was Moman Pruiett? Like Earl Rogers, Pruiett is one of those forgotten titans of the law. As a criminal lawyer, he operated mostly out of Texas and (what became) Oklahoma, and later Florida, around the turn of the last century. Out of 342 murder cases he acted as the defense attorney for, he won outright acquittals in 304. 37 of his clients were convicted of lesser crimes than murder. The only client of his who was actually sentenced to death received a presidential commutation of his sentence.

How did Moman Pruiett do this? Well, he wasn’t just a criminal lawyer: he was a criminal lawyer. The young Pruiett had two felony convictions on his record and spent three years in prison. In spite of that, he read for the law and somehow managed to gain admission to the bar at the age of 22. It was a different time back then.

Even after being admitted, Pruiett didn’t have a lot of respect for the law: he suborned perjury, manipulated juries (in one case retold by Bill James, Pruiett figured out who the jury foreman was going to be and had the defendant’s sister seduce and move in with the man), kidnapped witnesses, played poker with judges (and, per James, “accepted acquittals to settle debts”) and generally just did whatever he needed to – legal or not – to get his clients off.

There’s an online article that partially retails one of the most famous Pruiett stores. Since this is already running long, I’ll put a jump here.


More tales from the bizarro world.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

I seem to have a run of these lately.

Yesterday, someone tried to kill Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. as he walked into the Jefferson County courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio. The attack is being called an “ambush”: judges have reserved parking spaces, and Judge Bruzzese was attacked as he walked from his space into the courthouse.

The judge, who is described as “an avid hunter”, returned fire. Reports say the judge and his attacker fired five shots each. The judge was wounded and taken to a hospital in Pittsburgh: the most current reports I’ve seen say he’s expected to recover.

The gunman was killed by a probation officer.

Shooting a judge is bizarre enough that I’d probably make note of it here. But there’s a twist:

The gunman was the father of a former Steubenville football player who was convicted of rape.

You may remember the Steubenville rape case from 2013. Briefly, a group of football players sexually assaulted a fellow student, filmed the assault, and shared pictures on social media. There were allegations that school authorities in Steubenville knew about the sexual assault and tried to cover it up. The whole mess was big news in 2013.

The really odd thing is, Judge Bruzzese didn’t have anything to do with the rape case. That case was heard by another visiting judge. Judge Bruzzese was hearing a wrongful death suit being pressed by the alleged gunman against the local housing authority, and there was a hearing scheduled for next Monday.

So why shoot the judge now? Maybe you think he’s biassed and want to try your chances with someone else? But how did he expect to get away with this? The whole thing was apparently caught on camera (though I don’t believe the video has been released). And it’s not like Steubenville is a big city.

Maybe it was judgement juice:

A man who was in the car with the shooter was grazed by a bullet and was taken to Trinity Medical Center West. He told law enforcement interviewers he had been unaware of what was happening. Abdalla said that man and the shooting suspect had been drinking last night when the suspect said he had to be in court early today.

We extend our best wishes to Judge Bruzzese and hope for a speedy recovery.

Tales from the bizarro world.

Monday, August 21st, 2017

I saw a story this morning that I was sort of vaguely keeping track of, but didn’t consider blogging. Yesterday, the FBI, BATFE, and Houston police blocked off a street in a Houston neighborhood, brought out the robot, and were telling people to stay inside:

The FBI said it was “lawfully present conducting law enforcement operations” that are “in the interest of public safety,” according to an agency statement. “Since the matter is ongoing, we are unable to provide additional details at this time.”

Then the other shoe dropped. Apparently, there’s an explosives aficionado who lives on the block. And said gentleman tried to blow up a Confederate statue in Herman Park.

When confronted Saturday night in the park, he tried to drink some of the liquid explosives but spit it out, officials said.
Federal authorities said one of the tubes contained nitgroglycerin and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, HMTD, a “highly explosive compound” used as a primary explosive. Nitroclycerin, in its purest form, is a contact explosive.

I describe the gentleman in question as an “explosives aficionado” because the police previously raided this house (and a couple of others) in 2013:

The following year, the younger [Andrew Cecil Earhart – DB] Schneck was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty in federal court to knowingly storing explosives. In 2016, a judge released him from probation ahead of schedule.

What really grabs me about this is the whole “he tried to drink the explosives” angle. I can’t find much information about the health effects or toxicity of HMTD. But everyone knows nitro is a potent vasodilator (that’s why they give heart patients nitro pills) and that exposure can cause severe headaches.

And even if he managed to choke it all down, couldn’t BATFE or the FBI analyze the dregs in the container? Guy doesn’t exactly strike me as the sharpest knife in the drawer. Though the fact that he was able to make and transport nitro without converting himself to chunky kibble makes me think he deserves some credit. (It looks like HMTD is fairly easy to make, the ingredients are mostly readily available, and it’s not quite as unstable as TATP.)