A Caltech graduate student was convicted Friday of firebombing sport utility vehicles at a Hummer dealership last year to protest the American auto industry's contribution to environmental pollution.What ever happened to hacking the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl? And how clueless could this person have been to leave such an obvious clue?
After deliberating less than a day, a federal court jury found William Jensen Cottrell, a 24-year-old doctoral candidate in physics, guilty of seven counts of arson and one count of conspiracy.
Cottrell, who testified that SUV dealers were "evil," faces at least five years in prison when he is sentenced in March.
But he was spared an additional 30 years behind bars, mandatory under federal law, when the jury acquitted him of the most serious charge of using a destructive device during a crime of violence.
Josh Connole, a 25-year-old peace activist who lived in a commune in Pomona, was released after four days in jail.We're talking about a physics student here. The "Euler's theorem" noted is probably the really funky one, exp(i pi)+1=0, not the special case of the homogeneous function identity we use in economics.
Connole later received a public apology from the West Covina police chief and $20,000 from the city to cover his legal expenses. He recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the FBI for unspecified damages.
Connole's arrest eventually led the FBI to Cottrell. Upset that the wrong man was in custody, Cottrell sent a series of e-mails to the Los Angeles Times chiding the FBI for ineptitude and including some incriminating information known only to the arsonists and investigators.
Among the tidbits was a mathematical formula, known as Euler's theorem, that Cottrell had painted on a couple of SUVs.