Suspect:Informant goaded RNC bomb plan

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2009 - 12:05 AM

The case of David McKay, accused of making Molotov cocktails to use at the RNC, might go to the jury today.

David McKay took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and insisted he never would have made Molotov cocktail bombs if Brandon Darby had not told him to.

Darby, the activist-turned-FBI-informant, was livid that police had seized several shields protesters had brought north to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul last summer, McKay said. The protesters needed to come up with something else.

"Brandon Darby created the idea that we, as an affinity group, create multiple Molotov cocktails," McKay, 22, said. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of charges that he manufactured and possessed the explosives.

McKay's testimony put him in direct conflict with Darby. The 32-year-old Texan on Tuesday and Wednesday denied that he suggested making bombs. Mc- Kay's claim also contradicts three other statements he has made -- including a confession to an FBI agent, a statement he made in a letter to a judge and a statement he made in a recorded jailhouse telephone conversation with a female friend. In all those cases, McKay said he regretted his actions and never hinted that somebody else had put him up to it.

"I am completely responsible for my own actions," he wrote in an excerpt read by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen.

But defense attorney Jeff DeGree asked McKay if he wrote that letter at the direction of the FBI. McKay said he did, adding that a special agent told him that it would look good to the court.

"I've made serious mistakes with all I've done here in St. Paul," a sometimes-emotional McKay, of Austin, Texas, told the jury.

Both sides are expected to make closing arguments today. Then the case will go to the jury.

From Paulsen's point of view, the question is simple: Did Mc- Kay make and possess eight Molotov cocktails on the eve of the convention? In fact, Mc- Kay has admitted making the bombs with his friend, Bradley Crowder, who has since pleaded guilty.

But McKay claims he was entrapped by an overzealous Darby, who was paid for his cooperation by the FBI. McKay and his attorney have said that the young graphic artist only came north to protest, perhaps to block streets. It was Darby, who has taken his activism from Texas to New Orleans to Venezuela, who planted the seeds of creating explosives, they insisted. If the jury agrees, McKay would be acquitted.

But such a defense is a tricky thing, said Colleen Rowley.

Rowley, a lawyer and former FBI special agent who has been attending the trial, said she used to conduct training for undercover agents and once was coordinator for the Minneapolis FBI office in the use of informants.

"Entrapment is hard to show," she said. "You have to show that you had no predisposition before coming into contact with the informant."

And, until Wednesday in court, even McKay hadn't been telling that to people.

James Walsh • 612-673-7428

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