Convicted Colorado pipe bomber will get new trial 30 years later

A convicted Colorado pipe bomber will receive a fresh trial after spending 30 years behind bars for a string of attacks that killed two people.

James Genrich, 60, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the bombings which killed Maria Delores Gonzales, 12, and 43-year-old Henry Ruble in Grand Junction in 1991.

Genrich was found guilty in 1993 of three counts of use of an explosive or incendiary device to commit a felony, one count of third-degree assault and two counts of first-degree murder -extreme indifference.

(The Innocence Project)

He was convicted after a prosecution expert – Agent John O’Neil of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – told the jury that marks on the bombs must have been made by the suspect’s tools, ruling out the possibility of any other tools being responsible.

Now Judge Richard Gurley of the 21st Judicial District has ruled that advances in forensics and science mean that the expert’s testimony was flawed, reported The Denver Post.

In a 30-page order, the judge ruled that the expert could not accurately say that no other tools could have made the marks on the bomb. The judge ruled that the testimony violated Genrich’s constitutional due process and right to a fair trial.

“The court finds that the conclusion that the defendant’s tools caused the cuts to the wires from the bombs to the exclusion of every other tool was a crucial piece of evidence in the defendant’s case and without it, the people’s case would have been almost entirely circumstantial,” the judge wrote.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein says that his office stands by the tool evidence and plans to appeal the ruling.

“There was a lot of other evidence in the case other than that, and that’s part of my disagreement with the decision,” he said. “The evidence in the case was very strong and went well beyond the tool-mark evidence.”

Genrich was represented in his appeal by the Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicated to overturning convictions of wrongly convicted prisoners.

“Mr Genrich is very pleased that the court granted his request for a new trial,” said Tania Brief, a senior staff attorney on his legal team.

The judge set a hearing in the case for 28 July and stated that he intends to formally vacate the conviction for first-degree murder at that time.

The pipe bombings started in Mesa County in 1989, with an undetonated device found outside a hotel in April of that year. Three bombs would detonate in 1991, killing the two victims and injuring others.

Genrich’s home was raided after investigators received a tip, and they found pliers, fuses, a circuit board and a multi-tool.

The jury was also told that Genrich lived within walking distance of two of the three bombing locations, and had been seen in the area. Prosecutors also said that he had threatened to kill in the past and had expressed frustration with women.

Genrich is currently being held at the state’s Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley County.

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