Due to an “upset” in the dockets, court dates for three Explo Systems Inc., employees have been moved.
Court has been set for June 1 for Explo owners David Fincher, 65, of Burns, Tennessee, and David Smith, 57, of Winchester, Kentucky. Their cases will be heard together by 26th Judicial District Judge Mike Craig.
The case for William Terry Wright, 59, of Bossier City, will be heard August 3. His case is set to be heard by 26th Judicial District Judge Mike Nerren.
District Attorney Schuyler Marvin says three court dates were possible with the judges’ schedule, but two of the three attorneys for the above named defendants could not attend Monday, April 6.
The April 6 court date was widely reported by media to be the date the two judges would hear the cases, but Marvin says the dates were moved to later in the year.
“We picked another date,” he said. “We’re trying to pick special settings, where there’s no other cases on the docket. The two owners have had a half a day hearing on a motion to suppress, based on their argument that this material out there is not a quote ‘explosive’ and therefore not subject to all the (regulations). The third guy has now decided he wants to be tried with the other two. And I said you can’t jump in in the middle of a hearing. He has not been present, and by law, you have the right to confront your accusers and be present at every stage of the proceedings.
“It’s complicated enough trying to get our experts from the Army and the ATF and get them all to agree to be here on a certain date,” he continued. “We’re doing all that now, and it’s a complicated case.”
All three are charged with unlawful storage of explosives, reckless use of explosives, failure to obtain magazine license(s), failure to properly mark explosive material, failure to keep accurate inventory and conspiracy to commit each of the crimes.
All three have pled not guilty. Motions by the defendants include a request for a bill of particulars, which is a court document that includes more specifics than a bill of information. The bill of information just lists the alleged crimes in which a defendant has been charged. Another motion is to suppress and a request for change of venue because of the extensive media coverage the case has received, Marvin says.
In all, six employees were arrested and indicted by a grand jury in June 2013. The other three employees were Lionel Koons, inventory control
manager, Todd Dietrich, plant engineer, both of Haughton and Michael Kile, quality service manager, of Bossier City.
Explo Systems Inc., came under intense scrutiny following an explosion in October 2012 that rocked communities all over the area, shattering windows and shaking the very foundations of some businesses and homes. The Louisiana State Police began an investigation into the incident, in the end discovering nearly 16 million pounds of M6 propellant improperly stored at Camp Minden.
Since then, the propellant has been properly stored in nearly 100 magazines, or bunkers, but the stability of material remains unknown. Studies conducted by the U.S. Army and the Environmental Protection Agency report the instability of the M6 becomes more dangerous every day it sits.
A committee consisting of experts and military officials is currently perusing 10 bids proposed to safely destroy the propellant and the other materials at Camp Minden. At first, the contract for disposal listed the open tray burn method as the one of choice, but after an outcry from the community, a dialogue committee was formed to study safer methods of disposal.
A method has not yet been determined, although the EPA has consistently reported they will consider the alternatives to open tray burn before making a final decision.