`Gunpowder' in plot is flour, lawyer says

One of 3 Glen Burnie High students arrested April 29 may be released today

May 21, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Lab results show that what investigators suspected was gunpowder seized from the home of one of three teen-agers accused in a bomb plot at Glen Burnie High School is flour and cornstarch, a defense lawyer said yesterday.

Defense lawyer Patrick M. Smith and a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office said they would make a joint request today for the immediate release of the 15-year-old, who has been held at the Waxter Children's Center in Laurel since April 29.

The other two suspects are also being held at Waxter.

"Flour and cornstarch, maybe they could bake a cake," Smith said.

The charges, however, have not been dropped.

Three teen-agers, two 14 and one 15, were arrested in connection with what police said was a bomb-making plot. One 14-year-old and the 15-year-old were charged with conspiracy and possessing bomb components and the second 14-year-old was charged with making bomb threats in what police and high school students feared was a plan to detonate explosives at the school.

The arrests came a week after the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., and Smith said the case was blown out of proportion as a result.

A juvenile master ordered the students detained. Two of them, Smith's clients, filed an appeal this week to Circuit Judge Pamela L. North to be released but were turned down. North said then she was keeping the teens in detention because she was uncomfortable with what she heard about items seized from their homes and worried that their parents didn't know or didn't care.

North said she wanted the case tried by June 7 -- sooner than required by law -- because the boys were detained.

Among items taken from the homes of two of the boys were an unarmed grenade, BB pellets, model rocket parts and a compound from a chemistry kit. The compound is similar -- but not identical -- to one listed in a bomb-making manual the students had downloaded from the Internet. The manual was seized, too. A note threatening an explosion at the sprawling Glen Burnie campus on May 10 was taken from the backpack of a student.

Smith said yesterday that other items in the 15-year-old's room led him to suspect the youths were experimenting after navigating the Internet. A song by the rock group Aerosmith had been printed out, as had other music and instructions on how to surf the Net.

Glen Burnie students, many weary of bomb scares and worried about school shootings, tipped off administrators about the three students on April 28.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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