The pair of young Austin, Texas, men who filled wine bottles with gasoline and motor oil during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul are both going to federal prison, but one will serve twice as much time as the other.
U.S. Chief Judge Michael J. Davis on Thursday sentenced David Guy McKay, 22, to 48 months behind bars -- double the sentence he gave Bradley Neal Crowder a week ago. Why? Davis ruled that McKay had obstructed justice and had not fully accepted responsibility for his actions.
The men were arrested during the convention last summer. Prosecutors said McKay and Crowder intended to use the bombs as retaliation for police seizing a trailer filled with homemade shields that protesters brought to use during demonstrations.
Crowder pleaded guilty months ago. But McKay took his case to trial, insisting that an undercover FBI informant had actually planted the idea of making the bombs.
McKay's claims that he was entrapped by informant Brandon Darby gained ground with some of the jurors at his trial. A mistrial was declared after the jury deadlocked.
But, just before McKay's second trial in March, he pleaded guilty to making and possessing Molotov cocktails. Prosecutors announced plans to call Crowder to testify, and he was expected to contradict Mc-Kay's version of events.
Call caught on tape
In arguing for a longer sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen played taped telephone conversations of McKay from jail, including one in which he complained that Crowder's talking to prosecutors had derailed his chances.
"He completely, single-handedly destroyed my entire case and ability to fight," Mc-Kay told a friend. "If I had ever known that Brad was under that kind of pressure, I would have taken the good deal that I had."
Davis pointed out to Jeffrey DeGree, McKay's attorney, that McKay had testified at his trial that Darby told him and Crowder to make the bombs. Now, Davis said, McKay admitted that wasn't true.
"Isn't that obstruction of justice?" Davis asked.
Before Davis imposed sentence, McKay tried to explain that phone call.
"My belief was that Brad was going to say something that was not true to protect himself," he told Davis. But he admitted that he'd done the same thing. "I embellished -- I guess actually lied -- that Brandon Darby came up with the idea to make Molotov cocktails."
Then, he added: "I should have never come up here. I should never have lied. I should have never left the people who love me."
Father incensed by sentence
One of those people, Michel McKay, David McKay's father, was livid after the sentencing.
He accused the prosecutor of forcing both young men to lie about what really happened -- in order to get better sentences. But, because his son wouldn't lie about Darby's alleged influence and took his case to trial, he is paying a two-year penalty, the father said.
"It's all lies, it's all stinking lies -- and he knows it," Michel McKay said, pointing to Paulsen in the hallway outside the courtroom.
Paulsen said McKay got the longer sentence, in part, because he kept blaming other people for his poor decisions.
"It's a sentence that didn't have to be," Paulsen said. "If he had made better decisions with his defense, he could have gotten half that, like Crowder did."
James Walsh • 612-673-7428