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Hillsborough judge to decide fate of Freedom High School bomb suspect

TAMPA — When Jared Cano was arrested last year, the police chief said he'd plotted to blow up Freedom High School, to kill dozens, to accomplish "a catastrophic event the likes of which Tampa has not seen."

On Thursday, Cano's attorney said the then 17-year-old was all talk, that he never was capable of mass destruction, never had the ingredients to make a bomb and never directly threatened his school.

Attorney Norman Cannella asked Hillsborough Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez to throw out the case.

Cano had crushed match heads, pencil lead refills and fertilizer in his bedroom.

He had PVC pipes, nuts and bolts, wires, flashlight batteries, a plug-in clock and duct tape.

But Cannella quoted a defense laboratory analysis that concluded, "An explosive device cannot be readily assembled from the materials seized."

Assistant State Attorney John Terry said it didn't matter whether Cano, now 18, was a bumbling bomb-maker.

"He had a timer, chemicals, recipes, a plan," Terry said. "They clearly show he was attempting to make a destructive device. Whether he would have been successful is irrelevant."

The main witness in the case is a Freedom High School student who went to police after he said Cano, an expelled student, boasted about plotting to blow up classmates last August.

The unnamed informant said Cano was suicidal and told him he wanted to mimic the Columbine High massacre in Colorado in 1999.

When Tampa police arrested Cano, they found a journal that detailed his plans.

He was charged with threatening to discharge a destructive device and attempting to make one.

He's been in jail ever since.

On Thursday, besides arguing that Cano was no bomb-maker, Cannella said he never directly threatened the school.

Cano expressed the threat only to the informant. Cannella called that "a threat in a vacuum."

Prosecutor Terry said the threat expressed to the informant was sufficient.

Cano, his shaggy hair trimmed to a crew cut, said nothing. Judge Fernandez said she will issue a written order. She set another hearing date for Sept. 5.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or

Hillsborough judge to decide fate of Freedom High School bomb suspect 07/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:42pm]
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