[Pnews] Eric McDavid released after 9 years after feds concede withholding documents

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 8 16:44:13 EST 2015

  _/2 articles from corporate media follow/_

  Man Convicted of Environmental Terrorism Wins Early Release

8, 2015


A man serving a 19-year prison sentence for environmental terrorism won 
an early release from prison on Thursday, with a California judge 
approving a settlement between defense lawyers and prosecutors. The 
defense said that the authorities had withheld evidence that could have 
bolstered his case at trial.

The man, Eric McDavid, 37, was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to bomb 
several targets near Sacramento as part of a radical environmental 
campaign. The government said he plotted attacks against government and 
commercial facilities that he believed were harming the environment, 
including cellphone towers and the Nimbus Dam in California. Mr. 
McDavid, who visited some sites and at one point tried to make homemade 
explosives, has served nine years in prison and will be released 
immediately, according to his lawyers.

His prosecution had become well known in environmental circles partly 
because of its star witness: a pink-haired informant who began covertly 
working for the F.B.I. 
at age 17 after writing a community college paper about infiltrating 
political protest groups.

Mr. McDavid’s lawyers had asked that his conviction be vacated, citing 
the withheld information, including a request by officials for a 
polygraph examination of the informant, code-named Anna, and various 
messages between her and Mr. McDavid.

Federal prosecutors disputed the value of the material, writing that 
“none of the omitted items were even remotely exculpatory.” But in a 
settlement approved Thursday, both sides agreed to Mr. McDavid’s 
immediate release “to avoid the expenses and risks of further litigation 
and to advance the interests of justice.”

Under the agreement, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. of Federal District 
Court in Sacramento accepted a guilty plea by Mr. McDavid to a general 
charge of conspiracy, and then sentenced him to time served. Judge 
England also granted Mr. McDavid’s motion to vacate his original 
conviction and sentence of 235 months, allowing for his release. Mr. 
McDavid waived any future civil claims.

“Today we corrected one of the most egregious injustices I have ever 
encountered in my legal career, if you consider being released after 
nine years of wrongful incarceration justice,” said one of Mr. McDavid’s 
lawyers, Ben Rosenfeld.

A spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Sacramento did 
not immediately comment on the agreement.

Mr. McDavid’s conviction came as the F.B.I. carried out a sweeping 
investigation of arson attacks by a group called the Earth Liberation 
Front against a Vail ski resort, an S.U.V. dealership and a university 
botany lab, among other sites. Federal authorities said that Anna, who 
testified that Mr. McDavid had requested explosives recipes and once 
threatened her life, had helped thwart a dangerous plot to blow up 
targets like the United States Forest Service Institute of Forest 
Genetics in Placerville, Calif., and cellphone towers in California.

“McDavid’s homegrown brand of eco-terrorism is just as dangerous and 
insidious as international terrorism,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing 

Defense lawyers contended that Anna was an unreliable witness who had 
entrapped Mr. McDavid, manipulating his romantic attachment to her and 
pushing him and two co-defendants to brew homemade explosives while 
providing them with food and a place to live.

“She fomented the alleged conspiracy, literally herding defendants 
together from around the country for meetings, badgering them to form a 
plan, and mocking and berating them when they showed disinterest,” Mr. 
Rosenfeld and another lawyer, Mark R. Vermeulen, wrote last year, adding 
that the withheld material could have been used to challenge Anna’s 
credibility or examine her relationship with Mr. McDavid.

By many measures Anna was an unlikely spy. She was assigned by the 
F.B.I. to attend the 2004 national political conventions in Boston and 
New York, a global trade summit in Georgia and anarchist gatherings in 
Iowa and Indiana. Anna provided information in a dozen different cases, 
the authorities said, and stayed in touch with Mr. McDavid. In 2005 she 
reported that he was planning a bombing campaign, and the F.B.I. 
increased its monitoring of him.

At the time of his arrest in early 2006, Mr. McDavid was living with 
Anna and two co-defendants in a cabin in Dutch Flat, Calif., which the 
F.B.I. had provided and fitted with surveillance equipment that recorded 
the group discussing reconnaissance trips and the possibility of causing 
accidental deaths.

The co-defendants, Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson, both pleaded guilty 
in 2006 and testified against Mr. McDavid. Mr. Jenson has since said 
that he felt pressured to conform to a narrative embraced by the 
government, an assertion that prosecutors rejected.

After Mr. McDavid’s conviction, a Freedom of Information Act request 
yielded about 2,500 pages of substantially redacted F.B.I. reports 
connected to him. Defense lawyers said they thought those documents 
indicated the existence of material that should have been turned over at 

The undisclosed material included several emails or letters between Mr. 
McDavid and Anna that had been given to the agency’s behavioral analysis 
unit for review and an F.B.I. document dated two months before Mr. 
McDavid’s arrest, asking for a polygraph examination to determine Anna’s 
“veracity” before “the expenditure of substantial efforts and money 
based on source’s reporting.” F.B.I. officials later said that 
examination ultimately did not take place.

  Foresthill man released from prison after feds concede withholding

By Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton

dwalsh at sacbee.com

01/08/2015 1:35 PM

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of a Foresthill man who 
was convicted of being an ecoterrorist seven years ago, following an 
extraordinary hearing in which the U.S. government conceded that 
thousands of pages of documents that should have been turned over to the 
defense had secretly remained locked in a Sacramento FBI office for years.

Eric McDavid, now 37, was convicted in what federal officials once 
touted as a key anti-domestic-terror case. He is expected to be released 
from the Sacramento County Main Jail Thursday afternoon and head home 
with his family.

McDavid, who was sentenced in 2008 to 20 years in prison and has been 
locked up three days shy of nine years since his arrest in 2006, won the 
order releasing him after agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser count of 
conspiracy that carries a maximum penalty of five years.

U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered McDavid released 
with credit for the time he has served but only after demanding answers 
from federal prosecutors about why thousands of pages of documents had 
not been divulged to the defense until after McDavid began filing 
Freedom of Information Act requests from his prison cell.

“I’ve never heard or seen of anything like this,” said England, who 
originally sentenced McDavid following a 10-day trial on charges that he 
conspired to blow up federal facilities such as a U.S. Forest Service 
genetics laboratory.

McDavid and his lawyers have maintained for years that he was an 
innocent dupe of an 18-year-old FBI informant dubbed “Anna,” who led him 
on with promises of romance if he would pursue radical action against 
the government.

Some of the documents that were only recently produced by the government 
included a letter McDavid wrote to “Anna” describing his feelings for 
her, as well as emails the two exchanged that the defense contends show 
he was entrapped into talking about taking action – but never actually 
attacked any targets – as a means of consummating a relationship with her.

“I sat through the 10-day trial of Mr. McDavid,” a clearly exasperated 
England said, sometimes stopping to hold his head in his left hand.

“I know he’s not necessarily a choir boy, but he doesn’t deserve to go 
through this, either. It’s not fair.”

McDavid, who stood between his two attorneys in an orange jail jumpsuit 
with his hands shackled to his waist, listened quietly as the judge 
insisted on answers about how 2,500 pages of documents could have gone 
missing for so long.

“This is huge,” the judge said. “This is something that needs to be 
dealt with, and I want to know what happened.”

The hearing drew top brass from the U.S. attorneys office to the 
courtroom to advise Assistant U.S. Attorney Andre Espinosa as he tried 
to answer an unrelenting England.

Espinosa, who is relatively new to the office and had nothing to do with 
the original case, said the documents were not included in the case file 
or the discovery material handed over to the defense, and added that he 
had questioned the two original prosecutors, who both said they had 
never seen the documents.

Espinosa and John Vincent, chief of the U.S. attorney’s criminal 
division, said the documents had remained in the possession of the FBI 
in a file in Sacramento.

“We don’t know exactly why they weren’t turned over,” Vincent told the 
judge. The government contends that, even if the documents had been 
handed over, McDavid still might have been convicted.

But prosecutors and McDavid’s attorneys fashioned an agreement that 
allows McDavid to walk free after pleading guilty to the conspiracy count.

Sacramento defense attorney Mark Reichel, who represented McDavid at 
trial, said outside the courthouse that his client was not guilty of 
anything but took the guilty plea Thursday to get out of prison.

He added that he fought for the materials that had been withheld but was 
rebuffed. “I asked for this stuff,” he said. “They said, ‘Mark Reichel’s 
crazy, it doesn’t exist.’

“I knew they had to have more on the informant, but they just denied it 
and there was nothing I could do. It’s a great day to be alive.”

McDavid’s family sat through the court hearing, weeping at times as it 
became evident he would win release. Afterward, as camera crews circled 
them and McDavid’s jubilant appeals attorneys, Mark Vermeulen and Ben 
Rosenfeld, celebreated, his parents said they planned to get him home as 
soon as he is processed out of the jail.

Call The Bee’s Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

Read more here: 

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Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
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