The male half of a Trenton couple arrested earlier this month for possession and transportation of 13 pipe bombs told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation they needed them to use against a former boyfriend of the woman’s.
Teshina R. Bates (left), 36, was in Dade Magistrate Court this morning as preliminary evidence was presented against her. She and Robert C. York (below), 56, were taken into custody Dec. 5 after a Georgia State Patrol trooper who had stopped them at Trenton’s central intersection in front of Ingle’s Market found three of the homemade explosive devices behind the front seat of York’s Ford pickup truck. The GBI and Dade Sheriff’s Office were called in, and a subsequent search of York’s PeeWee Street home yielded another 10 bombs.
York was not present at the Dec. 20 court session before Magistrate Judge Joel McCormick. Jennifer Hartline, the public defender representing Ms. Bates, said after the hearing that York was probably still waiting to be assigned an attorney. When two people are charged with a crime, she explained, the same attorney cannot represent both without a conflict of interest. Thus, Ms. Hartline, who is usually the public defense attorney assigned to Dade defendants, cannot represent York since she already represents Ms. Bates.
The only testimony in the bomb case this morning came from GBI Special Agent Daniel Nicholson. Nicholson said at the original traffic stop, when Ms. Bates was questioned by the GSP trooper, “She stated she did not know anything about any explosive devices.”
But questioning York later, Nicholson said he learned otherwise.
Nicholson said York described Ms. Bates as his fiancée, who shared the PeeWee Street home with him. During his first interview with York, said Nicholson, York said he had “found” the first three bombs at work, and the other 10 somewhere else.
But during the second interview—when York told Nicholson he was going to tell the truth this time—York admitted he had built the bombs at home, with Ms. Bates in the same room “giving words of encouragement about producing these devices,” the agent told Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit prosecutor Alan Norton.
York had told him the couple were having trouble with Ms. Bates’ former boyfriend, Kelly Sexton, said Nicholson. He said the GBI was looking for the ex in order to question him. Nicholson did not say what sort of problems Sexton was causing the couple, how they intended to use the bombs against him, and why it would take 13.
Nicholson said the pipe bombs, which had been analyzed by a GBI bomb expert, were long cylinders of PVC piping wrapped in tape and filled with explosive powder and pellets taken from shotgun shells, with a fuse dangling from one end. When they detonate, the shotgun pellets are expelled as shrapnel, and the PVC body of the bomb fragments in the explosion and becomes additional shrapnel.
Nicholson said law officers found the 10 bombs at the PeeWee Street house after York described where they were stored—in a black nylon bag hung up in the area of the home between the kitchen and the garage, where York said he had built the bombs.
Asked where York had obtained the materials to make the bombs, said Nicholson,
“He said he Dumpster-dives, and he works at a heating and air company.”
As well as the completed bombs, officers also found at the home shotgun shells and the same kind of tape used in constructing them.
In her questioning of the GBI agent, defense attorney Hartline ascertained that it had been York rather than her client driving the truck, York who had given consent to search it, and York who had directed agents to where the 10 bombs in the home could be found.
Ms. Bates sat impassive beside her attorney during Nicholson’s testimony. She wore an orange prison jumpsuit and her hair was cut very short to reveal a small tattoo on the back of her neck.
Magistrate McCormick (left) bound the case over to Dade Superior Court.
He also bound over the only other case on his docket this morning, that of a woman who had been found with a personal-use-sized stash of methamphetamine in her bra when she was patted down during a traffic stop.
Both defendants remain incarcerated, though in the meth case McCormick indicated he would review bond.