David Snyder is barred from UCD grounds unless he first notifies campus police.

Suspect in UC Davis blast released on $2 million bail

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:59 pm

Former UC Davis chemistry researcher David Snyder is free on $2 million bail pending a scheduled March 14 court date, but he can't set foot on the grounds of his alma mater without first notifying campus police.

Family members last week put up homes and other properties as collateral securing bail for Snyder's release, said Michael Cabral, Yolo County chief assistant deputy district attorney. Snyder was released late Wednesday or Thursday, Cabral said.

Snyder has pleaded not guilty to 17 explosives- and weapons-related charges in Yolo Superior Court related to the blast in the early morning hours of Jan. 17 at his Russell Park complex in Davis. The explosion left him injured, chased more than 70 residents from their homes and brought bomb squads to the scene from across the region.

Snyder remains free pending the March hearing in Yolo Superior Court, but a court order bars him from UC Davis grounds unless he has first notified university police, Cabral said.

"He can go (on campus) if he's made arrangements with police," Cabral said. "He can't go without the police knowing in advance."

University officials said Tuesday they were notified that Snyder had posted bail and said the former chemistry researcher and one-time graduate student teacher faces arrest if spotted on university grounds without the campus's knowledge.

"We're aware he's out on bail," said campus spokeswoman Claudia Morain.

Snyder's exact whereabouts were not immediately known Tuesday, though Cabral said he was "somewhere in the state." Snyder attorneys Jessica Graves and Linda Parisi could not be reached.

Snyder was a junior specialist at UC Davis on a two-month contract, said campus officials. Snyder's appointment at UC Davis was to conclude at the end of January.

From the beginning of the court case, Snyder's attorneys have portrayed the explosion as an accident, and their client a tinkerer whose restless curiosity led to the January blast. Snyder, his attorneys said, is a dedicated, hardworking chemist.

But Yolo prosecutors at a Feb. 8 bail hearing successfully argued against defense attorneys' request to reduce Snyder's bail, saying he posed a flight risk and a danger to the Davis community.

Prosecutors at the hearing said authorities found explosive materials including nitroglycerine and cyclonite, the chief component in the military explosive C-4, in Snyder's apartment after the blast.

They also allege that Snyder enlisted an accomplice who disposed of materials in trash bins in Davis and on the UC Davis campus.

On Tuesday, Cabral said he was confident Snyder would not try to flee before the March hearing.

"The purpose of bail is to guarantee his appearance," Cabral said. "He's made bail. He's complied with the court order. We expect him to be in court at his next appearance."

But Rose Rogers of Escondido remains concerned. She said her niece is a UC Davis graduate student who lives at Russell Park. Rogers wants to know where Snyder is and has plenty of questions about the handling of the case.

"I'm definitely concerned. There are so many different aspects to this story that concern me," Rogers said. "People can't be everywhere monitoring this guy, but I'd like to know where he is. I treat it as an important case, not some kid who was caught with matches."

Snyder earned honors for outstanding graduate student teaching at UC Davis, his alma mater, in 2005.

A $10,000 award came four years later from a national collegiate scientists foundation. He performed postdoctoral work in cystic fibrosis research and on developing compounds to treat disease in the developing world.

He performed work at the university's well-regarded Kurth Lab under Davis chemistry professor Mark Kurth and, later, chemistry work for UC San Francisco scientist Dr. Alan Verkman, a leader in cystic fibrosis research, during a postdoctoral appointment that ended in November 2012.

But in 2011, UC Davis administrators received a complaint stemming from a 2009 incident in which Snyder and a classmate allegedly made small firecrackers in a chemistry department lab. The case was reviewed and officials closed the case.

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