Man accused of making bombs faces arson charge

Posted 10/15/21

A Port Hadlock man who lost his left arm to a homemade bomb in June was charged Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court with first-degree arson along with two felony counts of possession of a bomb …

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Man accused of making bombs faces arson charge

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A Port Hadlock man who lost his left arm to a homemade bomb in June was charged Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court with first-degree arson along with two felony counts of possession of a bomb or explosive device.

Jesse Thomas Taylor, 46, was also charged with possession of explosive without a license, as well as two counts of reckless endangerment.

Taylor entered pleadings of not guilty to all six charges during his arraignment Oct. 8. His trial was set for Feb. 28.

Police were called to Taylor’s home on Ness’ Corner Road just after 9:30 a.m. June 15 after multiple people called 911 after hearing explosions near D Street.

Other 911 calls quickly followed, with residents reporting hearing people scream and seeing a tree on fire in the neighborhood.

When sheriff deputies arrived, they found a blast area that was more than 30 feet wide. They found Taylor at the scene, with extensive injuries and burns on the top half of his body, according to court documents.

Also injured was Taylor’s 6-year-old granddaughter, who had burns on her face and head and damage to both ears.

Taylor was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle because of his injuries, while his granddaughter was treated at Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend.

Detectives determined that Taylor allegedly had been “making explosives and/or fireworks” in a shed on the Ness’ Corner property, and one of the devices had ignited and set off other explosions.

A family member said Taylor had been reading books on how to make fireworks and explosives for the upcoming Fourth of July. 

After police obtained a search warrant, they found four 8 3/4-inch pipes in what was left of the shed.

An “improvised explosive device,” or IED, made from a prescription medicine container that was filled with more than 70 grams of powder and had a fuse coming out one end, according to court records.

Another IED with a fully intact fuse, containing about 25 grams of powder, was found in an outbuilding near the shed where Taylor had been working at the time of the blast.

The items were removed by a bomb squad.

In his probable cause report, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Derek Allen wrote that Taylor was likely holding an explosive device in his left hand when it went off.

The explosion destroyed the shed and also damaged nearby trees and a small truck camper where someone was living.

“Although I do not believe Jesse was manufacturing or possessing the IEDs or IED/bomb/firework-making supplies with evil intent, wish, or design to vex, annoy or injure another person, I do believe Jesse was acting with willful disregard” of others, Allen wrote.

Authorities noted that Taylor did not have a license to manufacture, sell, or possess explosives.

During Taylor’s first court appearance last week, his attorney Lilly Powers questioned the charge of first-degree arson.

Powers noted Allen’s statement, and said Taylor had not been acting with malicious intent to commit arson.

“This looks to be an accident,” she said.

Chief Criminal Deputy Chris R. Ashcraft said sufficient facts existed, however, that Taylor had knowingly created a dangerous situation.

“He is building multiple bombs up against a trailer in which someone is living,” Ashcraft said.

Superior Court Judge Keith Harper agreed that the probable cause statement had sufficiently set out a basis for Taylor’s charges.

Harper added that Powers could seek a court review at a later hearing on the issue, but not during Taylor’s preliminary hearing Friday

“We’re all being caught flat-footed here,” Harper said of the request.

Taylor was dismissed following the hearing and struggled to sign the court documents for his release.

“I’m like in kindergarten right now,” he told his attorney as he tried to sign his name.

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