Thursday, September 27, 2007

Leader or led by the FBI?

Attorneys paint contrasting pictures of defendant as the eco-terrror
plot case heads to the jury.
By Denny Walsh - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A prosecutor told a Sacramento federal court jury Tuesday that Eric
McDavid "was the driving force" behind an eco-terrorism conspiracy,
and a defense lawyer countered that McDavid was entrapped by an
undercover informant and the FBI agents working with her.

McDavid "never wavered from his belief" that violent action was
required to get the attention of those who pollute and exploit the
environment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Endrizzi told the jury in
her closing argument.

She compared McDavid's alleged plan for a bombing campaign to the
methods of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation
Front, radical environmental movements classified by the FBI as
domestic terrorism.

But defense attorney Mark Reichel argued that McDavid did not come to
the charged crime freely because he had fallen in love with "Anna,"
an FBI undercover operative posing as a member of the conspiracy.

"She was very good at deceiving people," he said. "She was on a
mission to explore brave new areas of crime and report back to the
FBI. Eric McDavid was not on a mission. He never had a chance.

"It was like a card shark and someone who didn't even know the rules
of the game."

Two others charged in the conspiracy -- Lauren Weiner and Zachary
Jenson -- did not have their hearts in a bombing campaign but were
going along because they didn't want to let "Anna" down, Reichel told
the jury in his closing argument.

Ticking off equipment, a log book in which the foursome recorded
their activities, "the crisp $100 bills" and a Dutch Flat cabin where
the group lived in the days leading up to the trio's arrest -- all
supplied by "Anna" thanks to her FBI sponsors -- Reichel said,
"That's the creation of a case."

"Without 'Anna,' you have nothing," he declared. "That's entrapment."

But Endrizzi and Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham argued that
"Anna" had little contact with McDavid before he told her of his
planned campaign in the summer of 2005, while she was driving him to
Chicago from an "anarchist" conference in Indiana. Thus, the
prosecutors insisted, McDavid had a "predisposition" to violent
action.

Lapham reminded the jury "Anna" testified that, on the same drive,
McDavid told her, "If you're a cop, I'll kill you."

"Doesn't that comment tell you he was dead serious about the bombing
campaign?" the prosecutor asked rhetorically.

Endrizzi argued that romantic feelings McDavid may have had for the
informant are "a red herring." There was nothing physical between
them, she said.

"The evidence is he was not reluctant" to proceed with the bombing
campaign, she said.

Even if McDavid wanted to impress "Anna," that is "motive, not
inducement," Lapham argued in his rebuttal of Reichel. The prosecutor
said it makes no difference what McDavid's motives may have been,
there was still a criminal conspiracy.

McDavid, 29, is charged with conspiring between June 2005 and Jan.
13, 2006 -- the day of the arrests -- to damage and destroy the U.S.
Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, the
Nimbus Dam and nearby fish hatchery in Rancho Cordova, and "cellular
telephone towers and electric power stations" at unspecified
locations.

The prosecutors on Tuesday pointed to the foursome's November 2005
meeting at the home of McDavid's parents in Foresthill as a pivotal
event in the conspiracy.

It was then, they argued, that the agreement was struck to proceed
with a bombing campaign

Weiner volunteered to buy "The Poor Man's James Bond," a book with
instructions on how to build a bomb, the prosecutors reminded the
jury.

Under the law, they said, a conspiracy is an agreement among two or
more persons plus at least one overt act.

"The conspiracy was complete when Lauren Weiner bought that book,"
Lapham told the jury.

But Reichel argued that, without "Anna," there would have been no
Foresthill meeting.

He reminded the jury that the FBI instructed "Anna" to get the
threesome together and find out if they were serious about going
ahead with the bombing campaign.

Trial evidence showed that Weiner did not have the money to travel
from Philadelphia, where she was living, to the Sacramento area, and
was afraid to fly. "Anna" paid for her round trip airfare and
persuaded her to make the trip.

The evidence also showed that McDavid insisted family commitments
prevented him from attending a meeting in the fall of 2005, but
"Anna" insisted that he make time.

"She's there to focus them and get them to fix a target," Reichel
said of "Anna." "The woman now has one single target, like a
heat-seeking missile."

Further, Reichel argued, had it not been for "Anna's" urging and
planning, the group would not have reconvened in Dutch Flat the
following January.

"Take 'Anna' out of the equation, and they don't get back together,"
he told the jury. "The tumbleweeds" -- a reference to the vagabond
lifestyles of McDavid and Jenson -- "go their own way."

But Lapham countered, "Merely providing the opportunity to the
defendant to act on his own predisposition is not inducement."

Jenson, 22, and Weiner, 21, pleaded guilty and testified against
McDavid. They were allowed to plead to lesser charges, and they hope
the prosecutors will recommend lenient sentences for them.

U.S. District Judge Morrison E. England Jr. will instruct the jury on
the law this morning and the panel will then begin deliberations.
McDavid is facing at least five years in prison and not more than 20

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