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Davis researcher faces 10 charges after apartment blast

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POSTED January 24, 2013 9:21 p.m.


DAVIS (AP) — A chemistry researcher at the University of California, Davis who was injured in an explosion at his campus apartment last week was charged Thursday with 10 counts of possessing firearms and explosives.

The Yolo County District Attorney's office does not say in the five-page complaint whether 32-year-old David Snyder intended to harm anyone with the items found in his apartment.

Snyder pleaded not guilty during a brief initial court appearance Thursday in Yolo County Superior Court in Woodland, north of Sacramento. One of his defense attorneys, Linda Parisi, said her client had the materials for research.

"What happened in Dr. Snyder's apartment was an accident. He harbored no intent to build or detonate an explosive device," she said. "He is a chemist working on a variety of projects."

Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral said investigators found liquid and solid explosive materials and devices to detonate them in the apartment. He said Snyder had assistance from another individual who is connected to the university but is not a faculty member. That individual has been questioned by investigators, Cabral said, but has not been charged.

Snyder has a doctorate in chemistry from the university. University spokeswoman Claudia Morain said he was involved in a chemistry department project "focused on small molecule synthetic organic chemistry." She could not say if chemicals used in that research were dangerous or explosive.

The laboratory is working to develop materials that could be used to treat polycystic kidney disease, which causes the kidneys to become enlarged with cysts in about one of every 1,000 people. Snyder also was helping to develop compounds to treat secretory diarrhea, which affects millions of people mainly in developing countries, Morain said. He is on investigatory leave from the university.

Snyder was treated at a hospital for hand injuries after the 1 a.m. blast a week ago and was arrested Saturday. He is being held on $2 million bond, but Parisi said she will seek to have the amount reduced at his next court hearing, set for Feb. 8. One of Parisi's colleagues, Jessica Graves, handled Thursday's court appearance.

"I'm hopeful that bail will be set at a more reasonable level," Parisi said by telephone. "He's not a flight risk, he's not criminally oriented, he has no prior record."

A federal agent who would not let his name be used because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case said the investigation to date has revealed no intention by Snyder to harm anyone.

The blast caused only minor damage to Snyder's apartment but led to the evacuation of about 100 people while the materials were removed and detonated.

He was charged Thursday with two felony counts of possessing firearms in his apartment without the university's permission. Three counts say he possessed a destructive device or explosive, while four allege he recklessly disposed of hazardous waste.

The final charge says he possessed materials with the intent to make a destructive device.

The charges do not describe the explosive materials or the type of firearms Snyder had.


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