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More details emerge on UC Davis explosives case

At a bail hearing on Friday for University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder, more details emerged about the case against him for alleged possession and intent to make destructive devices, reckless disposal of hazardous waste, and possession of firearms on campus. Snyder was injured in an explosion in his campus apartment on Jan. 17.

2013.02.11 Snyder explosives structures
From the Sacramento Bee:

Prosecutors on Friday said investigators found explosive materials, including nitroglycerine, in UC Davis chemistry researcher David Snyder’s blast-damaged apartment – and said he had been warned in the past not to make explosives at his university’s labs. …

Snyder, 32, pleaded not guilty at his Friday bail hearing in Yolo Superior Court.

He remains held in lieu of $2 million bail at Yolo County jail on 17 explosives and firearms-related charges connected to the early morning blast Jan. 17 at his Russell Park apartment in Davis.

Prosecutors added seven firearms counts in an amended complaint against the chemist, one each for weapons investigators recovered from the apartment, along with what Holzapfel said were “multiple boxes of ammunition.”

Yolo Superior Court Judge David Reed denied Snyder defense attorney Linda Parisi’s request to lower Snyder’s bail to $500,000, saying his alleged actions put friends, neighbors, colleagues and first responders at risk.

Three weeks after the blast, Snyder sat quietly in the jury booth, his damaged left hand in a substantially smaller wrap than at his first court appearance. …

In Snyder’s apartment, prosecutors allege he had several common explosives: a vial of triacetone-triperoxide, known by its initials TATP; hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD; and [cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine, or] RDX. …

[Snyder defense attorney Linda] Parisi downplayed prosecutors’ explosives claims following the hearing, saying the materials were in “very small amounts” that would require “some force to detonate.”

UC Davis officials declined to comment on Friday’s hearing, but said campus administrators in 2011 had received a complaint stemming from a 2009 incident in which Snyder and a classmate allegedly made small firecrackers in a chemistry department lab.

The complaint was reviewed and the case closed, university officials said. …

I’m not sure where Parisi is getting her explosives information, but nitroglycerine, TATP, and HMTD are primary explosives, which means they are generally considered very sensitive and easily detonated. RDX is a secondary explosive, which means that it is less sensitive. When people design explosive devices, typically a small amount of a primary explosive will be used to set off a larger amount of a secondary explosive (or so I learned when I was reporting Examining Explosives).

Snyder is due back in court on March 14 for “a prehearing conference,” the Bee says. There’s still no word on the identity of Snyder’s alleged accomplice.

Hand-drawn structures inspired by Carmen.

Updated to add link to amended complaint.

Updated again: The Daily Democrat story from the hearing had little information beyond the Sac Bee, except that if convicted Snyder would serve time in a local jail rather than state prison because of a 2011 law. And so far UC Davis has spent more than $23,000 on the case.

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