8 Years For Pipe Bomb, Scuffle With Police

August 18, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Dallas Jermaine Smith, a 22-year-old with an FBI file, was found guilty Monday of having an explosive device and attempting to disarm a police officer after a pipe bomb was discovered in his backpack last year while he was standing near the University of Maryland BioPark.

He was sentenced to two concurrent 20-year prison terms, with all but eight years of each suspended, and given a 13-month credit for time served.

Smith's attorney had argued to have the evidence suppressed, claiming police had no right to stop or search his client. He plans to appeal the ruling and characterized Smith as a bright young man who had a hard upbringing and made some poor choices, in part because of resentment he feels toward his father.

He "has had problems, no doubt," said Assistant Public Defender Linwood Hedgepeth, adding that he has counseled Smith, who has a knack for chemistry and physics, about wasting his talents.

Smith apologized to the court, saying it was never his intention to "make anyone feel scared."

"I got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "I apologize for the disturbance I caused."

During a motions hearing Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court, UM Police Officer Randall White said he stopped Smith in the 800 block of W. Baltimore St. in July 2008 because of a bulge beneath the young man's shirt at his waistband area, which the officer suspected was a gun. It turned out to be a claw hammer, but Smith's reaction to the stop led the officer to investigate further.

"I've never seen anybody as nervous as this person was," White said. "His pants leg actually started shaking."

When White asked about his knapsack, Smith tried to flee and eventually got into a scuffle with White and a backup officer. In all, it took four police officers to subdue the 140-pound, 5-foot-6-inch Smith, according to court records. Investigators found a pipe bomb in his knapsack along with a face mask, and pairs of leather and latex gloves.

FBI records show Smith detonated a pipe bomb at his mother's home in Prince George's County when he was 13; investigators found another 20 such explosives at the time and a journal that said Smith planned to target a federal complex in California.

Judge Thomas J.S. Waxter Jr. took Smith's expression of regret as a sign that he was ready to move toward a new way of life. "You have to start somewhere," he said, "and it sounds like you may have started."

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