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Teen Admits Having Bomb Materials

September 21, 2000|TRACY WILSON

A former Hueneme High School student accused of manufacturing bombs in his bedroom has changed his plea to guilty and admitted possessing explosive materials.

Jose Carlos Herrera, 19, faces up to four years in state prison.

Herrera was arrested in April 1999 after police received a tip that he was constructing homemade bombs and had threatened to blow up his high school. The report came just days after the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Oxnard police searched the teen's bedroom and said they found pipe bombs and materials for making explosives. Authorities also seized a diary in which the teen talked about blowing up his campus.

"An explosion at school would sound cool on Fox news," he wrote, according to testimony presented at a preliminary hearing.

Defense lawyer Victor Salas argued the writings included sensational rap music lyrics and were not to be taken seriously.

Salas said his client, a nearly straight-A student with no criminal record, never intended to hurt anyone and was interested in making bombs only because he hoped to someday join the military as a demolition expert.

Herrera previously pleaded not guilty to four counts of bomb-making and denied an allegation that he intended to injure students.

But this week he changed his plea during a hearing before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Clark and admitted to two felony charges: possession of bomb-making materials and possession of explosive devices with intent to injure or destroy property.

The remaining counts are expected to be dismissed at a Dec. 18 sentencing hearing.

Because Herrera has already spent nearly 1 1/2 years in Ventura County Jail awaiting trial, Salas said there is a good chance Herrera will never see prison if the judge sentences him to less than four years.

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