Crime, Fire + Courts

Snyder posts bail; court documents shed light on UCD researcher’s conduct

By From page A1 | February 21, 2013

David Snyder. Enterprise file photo

David Snyder. Enterprise file photo

David Scott Snyder started working the phone shortly after his arrival at Sutter Davis Hospital, where he sought treatment for hand injuries from an explosion in his Russell Park apartment.

“Get rid of the pipettes, the syringes, and the ‘D,’ ” nurses and a police officer overheard the UC Davis researcher saying that Jan. 17 morning, according to documents on file in Yolo Superior Court.

Another nurse reported hearing Snyder complain over the phone about UCD’s management and chemistry department, and that he said he had been “making drugs for you people for five years.” When the nurse asked about multiple needle marks on his hand, Snyder told her he had tested experimental medications on himself.

A week and a half earlier, Snyder had approached a student in his chemistry lab at UCD “and asked if she wanted to learn how to make TATP,” a sensitive and unstable homemade explosive, according to another court document. “TATP is Hamas’ favored explosive,” Snyder reportedly added before mixing together hydrogen peroxide, acetone and concentrated sulfuric acid.

The allegations are contained in papers filed by UCD police and Yolo County prosecutors to boost Snyder’s bail to $2 million in light of the risk his alleged explosives-making activities, both at home and in a campus chemistry lab, posed to the community.

Late last week, Snyder, 32, posted a bail bond that, provided he follows the conditions of his release, will keep him out of jail custody while his court case is pending.

During a Feb. 14 court hearing, Yolo Superior Court Judge David Reed issued a criminal protective order instructing Snyder to refrain from having any contact with UCD, either directly or through a third party, and to not come within 100 yards of the campus unless he makes prior arrangements with police.

He also may not possess any weapons, explosives or destructive devices, and he cannot leave the state of California during the pending court proceedings.

Although prosecutors once considered Snyder a flight risk due to his family living out of state in Texas and Colorado, “I believe he will show up to his court hearings,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral said Wednesday.

The funds required to secure the bond — $140,000, according to Snyder’s court file — were collected from “existing family resources” such as savings and retirement accounts, Cabral said.

Linda Parisi, Snyder’s defense attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Snyder, who was on the tail end of a two-month junior specialist position at UCD at the time of his Jan. 19 arrest, is due back in court March 14 for a pretrial hearing. He has pleaded not guilty to 17 felony charges including reckless disposal of hazardous waste, possession of a destructive device or explosive, possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device, and possession of a firearm on university grounds.

Parisi has described Snyder as “the kind of chemist that was always tinkering and experimenting with things,” and whose work at UCD has focused on developing medications for pain relief and for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal disorders.

“He has always been a peaceful and law-abiding citizen,” Parisi wrote in a motion that sought to reduce Snyder’s bail to $500,000, a request that Judge Reed ultimately denied at a Feb. 8 hearing.

But Deputy District Attorney Martha Holzapfel called Snyder “a public safety nightmare,” noting in her opposition to Parisi’s bail motion that while at the hospital, Snyder refused to give police his address, say whether anyone else had been injured in the explosion, or reveal whether there were any other explosives in the apartment that officers were about to enter.

According to the document, authorities reported finding TATP — full name triacetone-triperoxide — inside Snyder’s residence, along with precursors for the manufacture of the explosives hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), ammonium nitrate aluminum powder, flash powder and black powder.

A glass vial with an attached fuse, which exploded when bomb technicians used a remote laser tester to determine the nature of its contents, later tested positive for nitroglycerin, Holzapfel wrote.

Seven firearms — including two rifles and four handguns that Parisi referred to as “antiques” — also were recovered during the 20-hour chemical removal operation, which resulted in the evacuations of about 75 of Snyder’s Russell Park neighbors as well as a nearby day-care center.

A subsequent search of Snyder’s lab on the UCD campus reportedly revealed TATP, ammonium nitrate and other chemicals kept in unmarked containers that even after testing could not be identified, according to Holzapfel.

Asked about Snyder’s alleged comments at the hospital, Cabral said his office has no evidence that Snyder was manufacturing illicit drugs, though “obviously, the investigation’s ongoing.”

Cabral said that investigation includes the role of the person who, at Snyder’s request, removed bagfuls of volatile chemicals from the Russell Park apartment and dumped them at various locations within the city of Davis. Parisi said in her bail reduction motion that Snyder was “under the influence of pain medication” when he allegedly made that call.

Another court document says the acquaintance, a self-described “longtime friend” of Snyder’s whose identity was not revealed, showed police the dump sites and also admitted to taking guns off Snyder’s bed and locking them in a safe inside the apartment.

“I don’t think David would have me move something that would hurt me,” the friend told police, according to the document. When officers tried contacting him again, the friend said he had been in touch with an attorney who instructed him not to talk to police without a lawyer present.

Where Snyder is staying during his pending court proceedings is unclear, though Parisi indicated in her bail motion that an uncle who lives in California has offered Snyder a place to live.

One place he won’t be going is his former Russell Park residence, which as of Wednesday remained boarded up with a sign on the door from the Yolo County Health Department declaring the apartment a nuisance and “unfit for human habitation.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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