[Ppnews] Jurors get 2 views of Texan charged in RNC Molotov cocktail case
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 27 10:40:36 EST 2009
Jurors get 2 views of Texan charged in RNC Molotov cocktail case
<mailto:dhanners at pioneerpress.com?subject=TwinCities.com:%20Jurors%20get%202%20views%20of%20Texan%20charged%20in%20RNC%20Molotov%20cocktail%20case>By
dhanners at pioneerpress.com
Updated: 01/26/2009 07:00:58 PM CST
Jurors today got two different views of David Guy
McKay, the Texan accused of turning an apartment
building a few feet from St. Paul Cathedral into
a bomb-making factory during last summer's Republican National Convention.
To the prosecution, McKay, 23, was a protester
bent on destruction, and the eight Molotov
cocktails he is accused of assembling posed a
"grave risk of serious injury or even death to
innocent people," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen told jurors.
But as far as the defense is concerned, McKay is
an earnest young man swayed by the influence of
an older activist a man who pushed McKay
towards violence, only to turn out to be a paid
FBI informant, said defense attorney Jeffrey DeGree.
"David McKay should be found not guilty because
the government went too far. The word for that is
'entrapment,' " DeGree said in his opening
remarks on the trial's first day. "The government
conduct in this case is appalling. The agent's conduct is appalling."
The government, he said, "is more responsible for
making these Molotov cocktails than anybody else."
Testimony begins Tuesday.
McKay is standing trial on charges that he made
and possessed an unregistered firearm, which is
how federal law classifies a Molotov cocktail.
He's also charged with possessing destructive
devices that lacked serial numbers.
He was one of two men from Austin, Texas,
indicted by the government last fall in
connection with the Molotov cocktails, which were
discovered in the basement of a house in the 200
block of Dayton Avenue, about half a mile from
the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention was held.
Earlier this month, the other defendant, Bradley
Neil Crowder, 23, pleaded guilty to possessing
Molotov cocktails. Testifying against McKay was
not a part of the plea bargain he reached with
prosecutors, and when Paulsen read off a list of
the witnesses the government intends to call, Crowder's name was not on it.
But prominent on the list was Brandon Darby, a
former firebrand activist-turned-government
informant. And in opening statements to nine
women and five men who make up the 12-member jury
with two alternates, both Paulsen and DeGree made
it clear that there'd probably be no case without
Darby but they mentioned it for different reasons.
Paulsen painted Darby, 32, who now lives in
Austin, Texas, as a committed activist "known in
the past for his rhetoric, sometimes
revolutionary rhetoric." But he'd worked
undercover for the government in the past, and so
the FBI asked him to infiltrate a loose-knit
group of people in Austin who were planning to
come to St. Paul to protest during the GOP
convention the first week of September.
Originally, Darby had agreed only to pass along
information. But when McKay disclosed to him that
he had built and planned to use Molotov
cocktails, the FBI asked Darby to wear a "wire"
and he agreed to do so for the first time in the case, Paulsen said.
McKay allegedly first planned to use the devices
at a checkpoint where vehicles were inspected
before going to the convention center, but then
decided to use them against law enforcement cars
in a parking lot, Paulsen told jurors.
"At no time did he encourage or incite Mr.
McKay," Paulsen said. "He does not believe in
violence and he doesn't want to see anybody get hurt."
But DeGree said Darby entrapped McKay, and were
it not for Darby's involvement, there'd be no crime.
"This is a case of a government informant who
took it upon himself to make things happen,"
DeGree said as he got up to address jurors.
"Make no mistake about it, ladies and gentlemen:
This case is about Brandon Darby," he said.
DeGree described McKay's upbringing the son of
a Canadian chef and model, the subject of a
bitter custody dispute, a self-taught graphic
artist and said that when he moved to Austin
and got involved in social-justice issues, he
fell under the spell of a charismatic Darby.
Darby, he said, "was a larger-than-life character
in Austin, Texas." Pacing back and forth in back
of a podium, DeGree told jurors that Darby "was a
revolutionary his words" and "an enemy of the
U.S. government his words" who even once went
to Venezuela to try to get funding from the government of Hugo Chavez.
But DeGree said McKay and others in the Austin
group looked up to Darby, and the informant egged
them on and fanned the flames of violent
activism, even telling them at one point, "You
guys look like a bunch of tofu eaters. You better
start eating meat and bulking up."
Although DeGree and McKay's father had hinted in
previous interviews that they intended to raise
the issue of entrapment, DeGree made it official
Sunday when he filed a proposed jury instruction
to be read before jurors begin deliberations covering entrapment.
He said that if McKay had no intent or
disposition to possess a Molotov cocktail before
meeting Darby, and was "induced or persuaded" by
Darby to break the law, then he was entrapped and
would have to be acquitted, DeGree argued.
He acknowledged in the proposal that there'd be
no entrapment if McKay had the intent or
disposition to build the devices before meeting
the informant, "even though Brandon Darby
provided a favorable opportunity to commit the
crime or made committing the crime easier or even
participated in acts essential to the crime."
In his opening argument, Paulsen said that after
McKay was arrested, he gave a "full confession" to an FBI agent.
"Noticeably absent in that confession is that
Brandon Darby or anybody else influenced him," Paulsen said.
David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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