Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This Ain't Exactly Rocket Science ... Unless Of Course It Is!

Ronald Swerlein of Longmont, Colorado, is due in Boulder County Court tomorrow (July 12), facing ten felony possession of explosives charges and a misdemeanor drug possession charge. He is currently free on $50,000 bond.

Swerlein's attorney, Jeffrey Larson, was unsuccessful in his attempt to obtain a publication ban, so the world's tiniest media circus will probably continue. And your humble scribbler will be there -- in icy spirit, if nothing else.

Police searched Swerlein's home in mid-June after neighbors reported hearing explosions in his garage, and they confiscated thousands of dollars worth of glassware and hundreds of chemicals, including half a pound of homemade nitroglycerin.

Swerlein says he was experimenting in his garage, trying to find a better rocket fuel, and his story may appear implausible at first glance. But a little bit of research (ok, quite a bit, actually) convinced me otherwise.

So this case holds a certain fascination for me -- quite apart from the astounding idea that somebody who played with homemade nitroglycerin in his garage could be free on bail, more than five years into the "war on terror".

Nobody outside of Colorado seems interested in covering this story, so you'll probably see more about it from me.

The story so far:

1) Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Police Seize Huge Cache Of Explosives From Colorado Home, But Say It's Not Enough For An Act Of Terrorism

2) Friday, June 22, 2007
Ronald Swerlein's Out On Bail And Going Home But The Neighborhood Is Safe Because The Cops Have All His Explosives, Weapons, Glassware, Magazines ...

3) Saturday, June 23, 2007
Ronald Swerlein Charged: Ten Counts Of Illegal Explosives, One Count Of Drug Possession

4) Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Ronald Swerlein Free On Bail; Court Date Set For Pending Explosives Charges

5) Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Gag Order Denied In World's Tiniest Media Circus

6) Sunday, November 3, 2007
Ronald Swerlein, Amateur Rocket Scientist, To Be Arraigned December 18th On Explosives Charges

7) Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Ronald Swerlein Pleads Not Guilty To All Ten Explosives Charges

8) Friday, June 27, 2008
Ronald Swerlein Pleads Guilty To Three Of Ten Explosives Charges; Plea Bargain Will Likely Keep Amateur Rocket Scientist Out Of Prison