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Ex-UCD chemist pleads no contest to charges in apartment explosion

Former UC Davis chemist David Snyder pleaded no contest Friday to 17 explosives and weapons charges connected to the January 2013 blast that tore through his Davis apartment.

Snyder could face three years in Yolo County jail, his attorney Linda Parisi said. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17 in Yolo Superior Court, she said.

The blast just after midnight Jan. 17, 2013, bloodied Snyder, rattled the Russell Park apartments and forced residents to evacuate as police and bomb squads from across the region swarmed the complex.

Prosecutors later said Snyder, once honored as the university’s outstanding graduate student teacher, possessed nitroglycerine, RDX – the agent found in blasting caps and C-4 explosive – among other materials.

Snyder also enlisted friend Tashari El-Sheikh, a postdoctoral student at the university, to dump chemicals in trash bins before police and explosives units arrived. El-Sheikh remains at large, having eluded a warrant for his arrest.

In court Friday, Parisi said a trial posed “significant risks to Dr. Snyder ... It’s always a very difficult decision, but the risks can be very high.”

Parisi had argued Snyder was a tinkerer who also was deeply involved in research for kidney disease and water purification in developing countries. On Friday, she said the plea would have a “significant impact” on his future career and research.

“He’s a very bright guy dedicated to making a lot of contributions,” Parisi said.

Snyder, flanked by his parents, left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.

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