One of the three Moffat County High School students accused of planning to bomb the high school and courthouse was released from a juvenile facility Monday.
District Court Judge Joel Thompson granted a motion authorizing release of Stephen Jackman, 17, on bond, but refused similar motions for Tony Jacob, 16, and Tom Elam, 14, the other youths accused of plotting to bomb the Moffat County High School and Courthouse. Jacob and Elam were returned to the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center, where they will remain until the three youths are due to appear for preliminary hearings on Jan. 29.
The placement hearings held Monday were to determine whether the three accused students presented a risk to themselves and the community, and therefore needed to remain at Grand Mesa. Thompson ruled that both Elam and Jacob posed such threats, but Jackman did not.
Norm Townsend, attorney for Elam, argued that the case against Elam was "all talk, and no action.
"There is simply no plot, simply no evidence of a plot, no evidence of bomb making equipment or materials."
Townsend argued that a video game that allowed players to build virtual cities and battle one another through the Internet, a game that was played by several MCHS students was the basis of this case. Townsend also pointed out that another juvenile who was recently convicted of possession of explosives is presently at home with an ankle monitor.
Under examination, Student Resource Officer Bridgit Camilletti admitted that the police had not recovered any physical evidence of bomb making materials or equipment, but said the investigation is not complete, and that further evidence such as what Elam might have been buying over the Internet with his father's credit card was still being researched and collected.
After the testimony of Camilletti and Kelly Updike-Goodwin, director of the Crisis Intervention and Community Evaluation team, Thompson ruled against Elam.
"This is a case about a conspiracy, and the essence of a conspiracy is that some folks get together and make a plan and it's not strange that one person has a device while others involved don't," Thompson said. "And, some statements that Tommy made during a mental health evaluation cause me great concern, for three reasons: They show a fascination with explosives and the feelings of power [Tommy] gets from them; they show he is impulsive, and that he is not aware of the inherent dangers of explosives. I see an inherent risk for future infractions with Tommy's fascination with bombs, his obsession with violent games, and his history of violent and intimidating actions."
Elam is also facing charges of criminal mischief in a separate case. He has already been convicted of felony possession of explosives stemming from an incident in 2000 when Elam brought gunpowder to school.
Kris Hammond, representing Jacob labeled the alleged plot "Mission Impossible," asserting the alleged plan was nothing more than a scene from the 1999 movie, and that the title was an adequate description of the plot itself.
"My client has been in detention for 24 days because he uttered forbidden words," Hammond said. "That's what this case is accusations that my client allegedly made statements."
Thompson ruled against Jacob after testimony revealed that Jacob was involved with other incidents of bomb threats at two other schools.
According to Camilletti, Jacob had been suspended while attending Kearney Junior High School in Nebraska and Smokey Valley High School in Kansas for making verbal and written threats about "blowing up the school" and "doing another Columbine." In one case, Jacob had attempted to create Napalm explosive jelly, and almost burned down a garage in the attempt. No charges were filed in either case. After both incidents, Jacob was withdrawn from the school by his family.
Jacob's father, John, proposed that Jacob be released from Grand Mesa and withdrawn from Moffat County High School. Under the plan, Jacob would be under 24-hour surveillance of his father until Jacob could earn a Graduation Equivalency Degree.
But according to Deputy District Attorney Bonnie Roesink, Jacob is allegedly the brains of the operation, organizing the group, making cards for them, and making threats directly to other students. Other parts of the case against Jacob are witness accounts of diagrams of the courthouse Jacob had that showed where the bombs would be placed, and attempts by Jacob to locate books that detailed bomb creation.
"We've only shown a small part of the evidence we have," Roesink told Thompson. "We also have reason to believe there is information on Jacob's computer which is being looked at by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations."
Camilletti testified that CBI was in Craig on Monday to investigate allegations that Jacob used the MCHS library's computers to do research on bomb making. Updike-Goodwin also recommended against releasing Jacob because of the severity of the threats, and her belief that no parent could guarantee 24-hour supervision.
"Tony is accused of being the ringleader, some of whom are smart enough not to get their hands dirty we don't have a 'smoking computer', in this case," Thompson said. "If [his father feels] that he needs 24-hour supervision, the best place to provide that is Grand Mesa."
In Jackman's case, Thompson ruled that Jackman's history was not as much of an issue, and that placing Jackman in his father's custody in Lyman, Wyoming was sufficient.
"The statements against [Jackman] are minuscule, and he made no incriminating statements in his interviews," Thompson said. "His case is different than the other two he has no prior history of adjudications or juvenile acts. It's not appropriate to keep him in detention."
Jackman was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond after he and his parents, Gale Marie Jensen and Karl Jackman, signed a pre-adjudication release agreement.
Thompson also granted modifications of the restraining orders in all three cases, bringing the total number of people not to be contacted by the accused or their families to 11.
"I'm just so happy," Jensen said. "I knew he was innocent all along. I know we have to wait for the final things, but when the truth comes out, it'll show he was innocent."
Jackman left for his father's residence in Lyman, Wyoming Monday evening.