Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Tampa man accused of making explosives to be held until trial

TAMPA — A man arrested last week for making explosives in his parents' home will remain in jail until his trial, a Hillsborough County judge ordered Wednesday.

"It's pretty obvious to me that you are a danger to this community," said Judge Walter Heinrich.

James Lee Minyard, 41, was hospitalized May 7 after an explosive he was carrying detonated and blew off part of two fingers on his left hand. Investigators soon discovered Minyard was making the devices at his home at 1212 E Crawford St., where he lives with his parents.

Minyard was arrested the next day and charged with six counts of making a destructive device.

In a courtroom Wednesday afternoon, Minyard appeared with his left hand layered in bandages.

Tampa police Homicide Detective Steve Prebich testified that he interviewed Minyard after he was released from the hospital. Minyard told him the explosive had gone off as he rode a bicycle on the sidewalk in the 900 block of Sligh Avenue on his way to a friend's house. Minyard lit the explosive, described as a pipe bomb, with a cigarette and intended to throw it into an empty lot, Prebich testified. Instead, it exploded in Minyard's hand.

When Prebich arrived at the scene, he noticed blood splatter on the sidewalk and a second device that Minyard admitted he dropped during the explosion.

The explosives, Minyard told Prebich, were for "recreational purposes."

While searching Minyard's house, investigators recovered four other devices, handwritten notebooks with diagrams and instruction books. Computers seized from Minyard were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis, Prebich testified.

Sgt. J.B. Seal of Tampa police's bomb team testified that the explosives were made of a compound that is "very sensitive to heat, shock and friction."

Minyard's father, James Minyard, also testified, telling the court that his son never intended to harm anyone. A few years ago, his son had taken to making small firecrackers.

But his hobby, Heinrich pointed out, had escalated.

"Even if your intention was not to go and blow up some other person or building, your sheer disregard to the safety of the community . . . the sheer volume of items you had in your house, concerns the court," Heinrich said.

Minyard's case remains under investigation, Tampa police said, declining to provide further details.

After the judge's decision Wednesday, he stared at the floor as he was escorted from the courtroom.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.

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