Devon Arthurs, charged in Tampa Palms double murder, to remain jailed

Published June 12 2017
Updated June 12 2017

TAMPA — A man who told investigators he killed his two roommates because they were neo-Nazis and criticized his conversion to Islam will stay in jail while he awaits trial.

Attorneys for Devon Arthurs announced in a Monday morning court hearing that they would not contest the state's request that he be detained.

Arthurs, 18, appeared at the 10:30 a.m. hearing via a closed circuit video conference from the Falkenburg Road Jail. He stood silent with his wrists shackled, yawning once, as a jail deputy stood at his side.

County Judge Margaret Taylor ordered Arthurs held without bail.

A grand jury last week returned an indictment charging Arthurs with two counts of first-degree murder with a firearm in the May 19 deaths of Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18.

Arthurs is also charged with three counts of armed kidnapping. After committing the murders, authorities said, he went to a nearby smoke shop and held three people at gunpoint.

Police soon arrived and persuaded him to surrender. It was after that, authorities said, that he admitted to the murders and led police to his roommates' bodies.

Arthurs claimed he committed the murders to prevent his roommates from "committing planned acts of domestic terrorism," according to a court document.

Meanwhile, in federal court, prosecutors are challenging a judge's order granting bond to Arthurs' surviving roommate, Brandon Russell, who faces charges related to the discovery of bomb-making materials in the apartment they shared.

When officers first arrived at the apartment, they encounters Russell, a Florida National Guardsman, who was dressed in camouflage and crying.

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As investigators began to search a garage adjacent to the apartment, they uncovered chemicals and explosive materials used to make bombs. The items were said to belong to Russell. In his bedroom, they also found a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell was arrested two days later in Key Largo.

On Thursday, government lawyers told a judge the 21-year-old should be detained before trial, arguing he poses a danger to the community and a risk of fleeing the country. As evidence, they noted that after Russell left the Tampa Bay area, he hooked up with a fellow neo-Nazi, then bought two long guns and 500 rounds of ammunition.

Russell, the government said, led a neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen, which sought to recruit members online.

His attorney, Ian Goldstein, argued that his client's beliefs do not constitute a crime. He said that Russell's grandmother, who lives in Orlando, was willing to pay her grandson's bail and help him abide by the conditions of his release.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun granted Russell's request to set bail.

Soon after, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa filed a motion seeking an order to stay Russell's release. The motion remains pending.

 
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