Man Arrested In Connection With McDonald’s Arson in 2003

New Jersey resident Chris McIntosh, 22, was arrested this month and charged with setting a fire Jan. 20, 2003 that caused about $5,000 in damage to a Seattle-area McDonald’s.

Shortly after the McDonald’s arson, someone called a crime tip line claiming the arson in the name of the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. The caller said,

There was an E-L-F-A-L-F hit at McDonald’s across from the Space Needle. There will be more. The fire was set on the ‘M.’ Four gallons of gas. There was a broken lock, not cut. Broken. There will be more. As long as Mother Earth is pillaged, raped, destroyed. As long as McDonald’s keeps hurting our furry brothers, there will be more.

Prosecutors say that fingerprints and DNA evidence found on a can of spray paint and sunglasses left at the scene of the crime match McIntosh’s. McIntosh had been arrested numerous times before in several states including Oregon, California, Wisconsin and Illinois, and his name turned up quickly after the FBI ran his prints through their criminal database.

McIntosh’s former girlfriend, Maria Gardner, told police that McIntosh set that fire and that she acted as a lookout during the fire. Another woman he dated, but who is unnamed in the affidavit against him, told the FBI that McIntosh bragged about the McDonald’s fire to her in February 2005.

Additionally, McIntosh apparently used his brother David’s name as an alias, and a Seattle-area youth centers’ records show a “David McIntosh” stayed at the center in January 2003, including the period during which the fire was set (McIntosh, in fact, was using “David McIntosh” as an alias when he was arrested).

McIntosh was arrested in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after police there received a tip that he may have been in the area. He will be brought to Seattle by federal authorities, and if he is ultimately convicted, he could face up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

The full text of the affidavit filed against McIntosh can be read here.

Sources:

McDonald’s blaze suspect held. Christine Frey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 17, 2005.

New Jersey Man Arrested In 2003 Arson At Seattle Mcdonald’s Restaurant. Press Release, United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Washington, February 16, 2005.

Man charged with arson in 2003 fire. Danielle Camilli, Burlington County Times, February 18, 2005

Judge Rejects William Cottrell Appeal

A judge this month rejected an appeal for a new trial by convicted arsonist William Cottrell.

Cottrell, 24, was convicted on 8 of 9 charges related to the August 2003 arson of SUVs at a California car dealership. The arson was claimed by the Earth Liberation Front.

Cottrell’s lawyers initially wanted to offer a defense based on Cottrell’s autism diagnosis. They wanted to argue that he had diminished culpability for the crimes because his autism made it difficult for him to understand what he was getting involved in.

The trial judge ruled that the Cottrell could not use the autism defense, but after his conviction his lawyers appealed asking for a new trial on the grounds that the judge should have allowed the autism defense.

Instead, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Cottrell’s request, essentially finding that the trial judge was correct that Cottrell’s autism was irrelevant in determining Cottrell’s guilt or innocence.

Cottrell is scheduled to be sentenced March 7.

Source:

Judge rejects bid for new trial by convicted arsonist. Associated Press, January 3, 2005.

Craig Marshall Reportedly to Be Released in January

The Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Group reports that convicted Earth Liberation Front terrorist Craig Marshall will be released on January 6, 2005.

Marshall received a 5 and a half year sentence in 2002 for his role in setting fire to SUVs at a car dealership. His accomplice, Jeff Luers, received a 22 year sentence after refusing to accept a plea bargain as Luers did and being convicted under charges that invoked Oregon’s mandatory minimum requirements.

No word yet on what Marshall’s probationary terms will be.

Source:

Earth Liberation Prisoners Information Bulletin, November 19, 2004.

William Cottrell Convicted of Arson in Firebombing of SUVs

William “Billy” Cottrell, 24, was convicted on 8 of 9 charges this month stemming from an August 2003 arson at an car dealership.

Cottrell’s lawyers, however, managed to create enough reasonable doubt to have their client acquitted on the most severe charge — use of a destructive device during a crime of violence — that would have carried with it a minimum 30 year sentence.

During his two week trial, Cottrell and his lawyers never disputed that Cottrell was at the scene of the Earth Liberation Front attack. Rather Cottrell’s defense centered on claims that he went to the dealership with two associates for what he thought was going to be a night of spray painting the SUVs. Cottrell testified that he was not aware that the two men he accompanied — Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe (both of whom are now fugitives and believed to have fled the country) — planned to commit arson and that he did not participate in any act of arson.

The jury still found Cottrell guilty of conspiracy to commit arson and seven counts of arson.

After police arrested Joshua Connole — who has not been charged with a crime and apparently had nothing to do with the actions of the other three men — Cottrell sent e-mails to newspapers claiming the action for the ELF and stating that Connole was not involved in the crime. Those e-mails were traced back to Cottrell.

Cottrell’s lawyers wanted to use as a defense the claim that Cottrell’s Asperger’s syndrome prevented him from resisting the svengali pull of Johnson and Oe, but the judge disallowed the defense. Cottrell’s lawyers plan to appeal the conviction, claiming that they should have been allowed to have used the Asperger’s defense.

Cottrell will be sentenced in March 2005. Although each of the charges he was convicted on carry up to 5 year jail sentences, Cottrell will likely serve any prison terms concurrently. Because he was convicted on federal charges, however, he will serve the full term of any eventual sentence.

Regardless, he isn’t likely to get much more support from fellow activists. The Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Group issued a statement shortly after his arrest disavowing Cottrell for testifying against Johnson and Oe. The Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Group said,

It is with deep regret that ELP has to announce that William “Billy”
Cottrell has testified against others at his trial.

Earlier this week, William “Billy” Cottrell testified that he had been
present at the scene of an Earth Liberation Front action. He admitted to
painting ELF slogans and to causing criminal damage. However he then went
onto say that he did not start any fires and named two people, Tyler Johnson
and Michie Oe, who he claims were responsible for the fires.

It should be noted that, as has been proven time and time again, you can not
trust the word of a police informant, as they will happily name innocent
people to get themselves off the hook and no charges have ever been bought
against Tyler or Michie, although the FBI have now named them as “fugitive
co-conspirators”.

A full report on Cottrell’s trial will appear in the next issue of “Spirit
of Freedom (January 2005)” and ELP will be putting out a joint statement
with the former “Free Billy Support Network” in the next few days, after
Cottrell has been sentenced. (The “Free Billy Support Network” has been
dissolved because of Cottrell’s decision to blame others).

However as of now Cottrell is regarded as a police informant and will
receive no more support from ELP.

ELP would like to apologize to all those who have supported Cottrell and we
would remind everyone that although Cottrell has turned traitor there are
many other good prisoners who need our support and we hope this will not put
you off supporting them.

What’s that old line about no honor among animal rights and earth liberation terrorists?

Source:

Man guilty in environmental firebombing of SUV dealership. Matt Krasnowski, Copley News Service, November 20, 2004.

Student convicted of torching SUVs in Calif. eco-vandalism spree. Associated Press, November 19, 2004.

Student denies firebombings in SoCal SUV arson case. Associated Press, November 18, 2004.

Arson suspect claims he painted SUVs but didn’t set them on fire. Copley News Service, November 18, 2004.

Prosecution finishes in ecoterrorism trial. Gene Maddaus, Pasadena Star News, November 16, 2004.

William “Billy” Cottrell Testifies Against Others. Newsletter, Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Group, November 20, 2004.

Judge Rejects Accused Arsonist's Autism Defense

William Cottrell, 24, might want to think about hiring new lawyers as his current ones continue to strike out. Cottrell, you might remember, is accused of setting fire to more than 100 SUVs at a California dealership — a crime which could put land him in jail for 35 years if convicted.

Originally, his lawyers tried to argue that arson was not, per se, a violent crime, but the judge smacked down that argument in August. Next, his lawyers tried a novel theory — they wanted to offer as a defense that Cottrell’s autism made it difficult for him to understand the consequences of his actions and made it difficult for him to resist the entreaties of his alleged accomplices, Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe, who remain fugitives.

But on November 12, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner ruled that Cottrell’s legal team could not use his autism as part of his defense.

Things are not looking to good for Cottrell as he apparently couldn’t shut up about his participation in the arson. Caltech student Claire Jacobs testified that Cottrell told her he agreed to participate in defacing the SUVs, but was unaware that the plan was to firebomb the SUVs. Prosecutors, however, apparently have a witness who will testify that Cottrell said he helped fill detergent bottles with gasoline which were used to ignite the vehicles.

Cottrell should look on the positive side — if he does end up spending decades in prison, at least he’ll have the sort of well-structured environment he seem to need.

Source:

Judge blocks autism defense in SoCal SUV arson case. Associated Press, November 12, 2004.

Two Men Plead Guilty in Separate Arson Attacks

Justus Ireland, 23, and Joshua Demmitt, 18, recently plead guilty in separate cases of arson in Utah that were done on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.

Demmitt plead guilty to participating in the arson of a building at Brigham Young University along with Harrison David Burrows. After his arrest, Burrows apparently provided additional evidence that helped convince Demmitt to plead guilty to destruction of property by fire. Demmitt and Burrows torched the building in the name of the Animal Liberation Front.

Ireland, meanwhile, plead guilty to setting a fire at the Stock Lumber Co. in the early morning hours of June 14, 2004, and set a delivery truck on fire and a pallet containing wood and cardboard. The fire ultimately did an estimated $1.5 million in damages. Ireland painted “ELF” on the truck and on the walls of a the Stock Lumber Co. building. He also walked into a health clinic and used an unattended fax machine to fax a local TV station a release claiming the arson to be an ELF action.

Ireland was already on probation for a 1999 aggravated sexual abuse conviction in Arizona.

In reaching plea deals, both Demmitt and Ireland plead guilty to charges that could earn them anywhere from 5 to 20 years in prison. Had they held out for trial, however, they could have been charged with felonies that would have carried a minimum of 25 years in jail.

Sources:

Activists puts off plea in BYU farm arson. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, September 29, 2004.

Feds charge two men with arson for ecoterrorism fires. Mark Thiessen, Associated Press, September 29, 2004.

‘Domestic terrorist’ charged in fire. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, September 29, 2004.

Two men plead guilty in Utah arson fires laid to ecoterrorist groups. Associated Press, October 1, 2004.