Alleged Finish Line bomb hoaxer ruled competent to stand trial
Boston Municipal Court Judge Thomas Horgan ruled today that Kevin "Kayvon" Edson is competent enough to assist in his own trial, following a mental-health evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospitals, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.
Edson is charged with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, disturbing a public assembly, possession or use of a hoax device and making a false bomb threat for an incident April 15, not long after memorial services at the Boston Marathon finish line.
According to prosecutors and witnesses, Edson went down to Boylston Street with a rice cooker in a backpack, then danced towards the Boston Marathon finish line while clad in what appeared to be a black veil and telling police who asked him what was in the backpack that it was a rice cooker.
According to the DA's office, Horgan reduced Edson's bail from $100,000 to $50,000 over the objections of prosecuters. If he makes bail, he will have to wear a GPS device, and follow a treatment plan prepared by the clinicians who examined him at Bridgewater. He is next due in court on June 3.
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One thing I don't understand
How can one be accused of "making a false bomb threat" when one expressly tells the authorities that one doesn't have a bomb but only a rice cooker?
The fact that Boston has been particularly sensitive about pressure/rice cookers for a year now, so somebody dancing towards the place where two pressure cookers were exploded while dressed in a black veil could be regarded as making a threat.
But I'm no lawyer; I didn't go into the family business :-).
I can see a variety of appropriate charges...
... but this specific one seems like overdoing it.
He knew what he was doing
But of course this is why we have trials. If he can convince a jury that there was a totally innocent reason to be dancing down Boylston with a heavy metal cooking device in his backpack he will be acquitted on that charge.
So, given that he's obviously mentally ill
we're in somewhat of a dilemma.
Crazy behavior - it's not like robbing a liquor store when you think through the benefits (pocket full of Benjamins vs going to jail or getting shot).
So it's not like throwing the book at this guy is going to do much to discourage him from acting crazy in the future, because, well, that's just not how crazy works. Nor will it do much to discourage other mentally ill people from doing crazy shit, because, certain kinds of mentally ill people aren't all that into thinking through the consequences of their actions.
On the other hand, turning him loose without any consequence doesn't seem quite right either.
And that right there is why public policy concerning the violent or disruptive mentally ill is kind of a sticky wicket. It's really not obvious at all what to do.
Heavy metal cooking device?
Please don't conflate a rice cooker and a pressure cooker. You just can't make a bomb out of a rice cooker. They aren't built the same way at all. It's like saying you brought a plastic knife intending to scare people. Sure, for like five seconds, you'll just think "KNIFE!", but as soon as you focus, you'll know it's garbage.
Cops aren't paid to focus anymore. They're paid to "make us safe". Hoorah, they destroyed the evil rice cooker. But now we have time to focus and realize that at best he was playing make-believe for whatever sane or insane reason. Star's shirt at the airport wasn't a bomb. The mooninites weren't bombs. The rice cooker wasn't a bomb.
Let's keep the definition of a hoax to the guy on the Orange Line today who actually said "I have a bomb", but fortunately didn't.
Selfish Artist wannabes
Selfish Artist wannabes
That is the Common denominator in the cases above (and the adult swim fiasco that shut down the city. These people purposely caused a ruckus in order to get attention to promote themselves/their product at the cost of public safety and lots of our tax dollars and a major inconvenience to the public. All of them should face huge fines and possibly jail time particularly the adult swim losers. It is the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater.
Completely false in at least two cases
The rice cooker guy is not a "selfish artist wannabe", he's a mentally ill guy off his meds. And the woman who wore her art project shirt to the airport was minding her own damn business until some idiot freaked out and the police put on a little security theater.
You want to talk about people bringing "something that looks like a bomb" to an airport? Here's what bombs look like:
It's not the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater. That's my whole point. The guy on the Orange Line with a box saying "it's a bomb" is that guy. The person putting up guerrilla ads that people get into their head that they're bombs are not. Intent is important otherwise what stops anyone from saying "I think that's a bomb" when they see you walking with an odd bag or box and then treating you like a criminal? They start saying you had a hoax device because someone freaked out over nothing. You're instantly a pariah for doing nothing because other people were ginned up into paranoia.
Star took the MBTA to the airport that day...nobody freaked out and called the bomb squad. Dozens of other cities had the same mooninite ads up, yet they didn't shut down the city and call in the bomb squad. There have been art installations that were confused for bombs before and they get taken down and nothing happens to the artist. Here's a very recent case in Phoenix, AZ where they found a box, the owner identified it as not intending to be a bomb and they gave it back to him and he wasn't charged: http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/25269364/2014/04/17/asu-students-proje...
It's possible to handle these things more intelligently. Projecting our insecurities around the room and then threatening legal action or destroying random objects that "might be a bomb" isn't going to lead to anything good and will distract us from being able to correctly identify the times when the threat is real.
A fake gun and a real gun are
A fake gun and a real gun are also quite different in that a fake gun can't shoot real bullets to harm people. The functional distinction between a pressure cooker and rice cooker is significant in that the perpetrator of the hoax evidently did not intend to harm anyone. Also of signicance, however, is situational context. Given the exact place, the exact date, the exact moment, and the exact, very carefully planned out details of the "performance", there is no doubt that the man very clearly intended to direct the attention of people who were there to believe a certain extremely concerning event might be about to happen. This "hoax" most definitely put his and other people's safety at very real risk. This is not to say that the man's intent was malicious -- most people would agree it wasn't -- but what he did does need some consequence, in the same way it would if someone dressed in a long dark robe, wearing a face-concealing mask, and holding a suspicious package while shouting out in a very unusual way, were to walk into a sad and solemn, law enforcement protected public ceremony commemorating the 9-11 tragedy at the "ground zero" site of the World Trade Center. It is almost akin to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, and certainly no one should have the right to do that.
not to conflate rice cookers and pressure cookers but....
you can make a bomb out of almost anything dude. ever cut yourself on a plastic knife?
Yes, you can blow anything up using a large enough explosive force. But a pressure cooker allows you to seal a low explosive force (sub-sonic expansion) and compress the pressure wave in such a way that it intensifies the resulting explosion of a lesser explosive material. When the sealed pot can no longer contain the explosion, it will release the energy all at once and likely destroy the entire pot in the process. This is a bomb.
If you set off an equivalent explosive force inside of a rice cooker, the lid is going to fly off and all of your explosion is going to escape out the top and maybe even tear the flimsy aluminum siding of the pot. It's not going to contain the explosion and intensify it. It's not a bomb, it's a short-lived flare.
Now, you could weld the rice cooker into a sealed container or whatever you want to attempt to create the enclosure that makes the pressure build up before release. But that's not the point of the discussion is it? Anything can be warped, molded, and changed to "seal it" with varying effects on stability under pressure. But a rice cooker, as a rice cooker and not just generic material to be conformed to encase an explosion, isn't a bomb-making material. A pressure cooker (used to contain excess steam pressure to increase temperature internally) is exactly that by form and function.
...nothing you or I say we will stop prosecutorial over-reaching -- or (alas) convince people that there's a problem with prosecutorial over-reaching.
Sadly, probably true
However, if we *can* get more people saying it, then eventually it will have to be heard by those who do have that power.
A rice cooker is not a bomb
A rice cooker is not a bomb and probably can't be used as one -- that has been established -- so Mr. Edson will not be found guilty of having and threatening people with a bomb. What Mr. Edson might be found guilty of is intentionally and unnecessarily creating a situation that could easily have led to a legitimate, spontaneous and dangerous reaction by the public at large that put his and other people's personal safety at very real risk, a situation that in every sense defied common sense and civility.
Not how things work these days
You overcharge the defendant to the max, threaten them with a hundred years in prison (viz. the late Mr. Swartz) -- and avoid any work in trying the person when they agree to plead guilty some lesser offense and accept a still draconian penalty (but a lot less than a 100 year sentence).
People just want to do the whole angry-mob-with-torches-and-pitchforks routine, so the bomb threat fits perfectly. Otherwise, they can't justify their righteous indignation.
If he makes bail
He'll be riding the T by tomorrow so expect delays!
what does mom say?
He's basically a good kid?
Nope, she apologized.
This guy's NOT crazy? Could have fooled me! I think provoking armed police with a make believe bomb in Copley Square on the freakin anniversary of the Marathon bombings is the definition of crazy. This guy's lucky he's still alive.
calm down, troll
There is a difference between mentally ill and competent to stand trial. He has to be able to participate in his defense.
The prisons are full of people who make batshit crazy choices.
But you knew all that.