by Matt Rosenberg April 10th, 2013
A man with 14 prior criminal convictions pled guilty last month in King County Superior Court to a felony charge that came after he left a potentially lethal pipe bomb outdoors on a late June, 2011 day adjacent to the Renton Library and a popular walking path along the Cedar River. He is to be sentenced next month, and was under community supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections at the time. According to court documents, Nicholas Joel Bailey told Renton Police he bought the materials for the pipe bomb at McLendon’s Hardware in Renton. He carried it around in a backpack for several days. On June 22, 2011 he was walking on the Cedar River Trail near the library and became alarmed when he saw two police cars go by, so he deposited a blue and white sports bag with the pipe bomb in ivy hedges beside the trail near the busy local library and recreation hub.
The pipe bomb was discovered shortly after 12 noon by a Renton city employee trimming the ivy, Jose Cano. It was nestled in a light blue bandana, in a plastic bag inside the sports bag.
Quick work by Port of Seattle Police, ATF
The Port of Seattle Bomb Squad responded, remotely removing the pipe bomb and safely deactivating it in a sandbagged enclosure. Two special agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also arrived, and processed the evidence which later confirmed the bomb was “real and potentially lethal,” according to a Renton Police report included in the county court documents.
State Crime Lab DNA testing was key
Forensic scientist William Stubbs of the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab conducted a DNA analysis on the blue bandana. The test pointed to Bailey and was then confirmed against another, known, reference sample of Bailey’s DNA. Waiving his Miranda rights to remain silent Bailey in an early 2013 interview with Renton Police admitted to buying the materials at McLendon’s in Renton and assembling them and also identified the the recovered evidence – the bag, bomb and bandana – as his. He was charged with one count of malicious placement of an explosive in the second degree, under Washington state law a Class B felony punishable by up to five years incarceration or a fine of up to $20,000, or both. Bailey pled guilty in mid-March. He is 33, and was 31 at the time of incident.
Was carrying pipe bomb in backpack “for several days”
According to police, “Bailey admitted he was carrying it around in his backpack for several days and said that was dumb because if it would have exploded it would have killed him. Bailey said he saw two cop cars drive by when he was walking on the Cedar trail near the library so he hid the back pack with the pipe bomb in the shrubbery. Bailey freely admitted knowing it was a park area and (that) people including children use the trail.” The Renton Library is at 100 Mill Ave. S., Renton. It straddles the Cedar River and is known by various names, including the Cedar River Library and the Liberty Park Library. Operated independently by the city for many years it is now part of the King County Library System.
14 priors; was under DOC supervision
According to court records Bailey’s 14 prior convictions include three adult felonies, two drug-related and one for harassment, plus one juvenile felony for burglary dating to 1996, and 10 adult misdemeanors including four for fourth degree assault – domestic violence. Police say he has recently been living in Vancouver, Wash., under supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections, but at the time of the pipe-bomb incident was living in Renton, where some family members are located. This was frequently permitted, his DOC supervising officer Heather Johnson told Renton Police, according to the police report included in county court documents.
Bailey is free at present pending a sentencing hearing beginning at 1 p.m. May 10, before King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas. The county prosecutor on the case was Greta Jibbensmith. She has recommended to the court a sentence of 20 months in prison, as part of a “drug offender sentencing alternative” program which can be used to shorten prison time if behavioral and program participation goals are met upon release. If the requested sentence were to be adopted by Judge Darvas and Bailey did not meet conditions of release, “he could serve another 20 months,” said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.