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Former UC Davis chemist to stand trial in blast

Former UC Davis research chemist David Snyder will stand trial on explosives and weapons charges connected to a January blast at his Davis apartment.

Snyder, 32, is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 1 for trial, a Yolo Superior Court judge ruled Friday at Snyder’s preliminary hearing. The chemist faces 17 charges related to the explosion at the Russell Park apartments on Jan. 17. The early morning blast injured Snyder’s hand, forced the evacuation of his apartment complex and brought bomb squads from across the area to the scene.

Prosecutors later alleged Snyder possessed explosives in his apartment, including nitroglycerine and RDX, an ingredient found in blasting caps and military C-4 explosives. They also said that Snyder enlisted friend and neighbor Tashari El-Sheikh, a postdoctorate UC Davis employee in aerospace and mechanical engineering, to dump the volatile chemicals in nearby trash bins following the blast and ahead of arriving police and bomb squads. A warrant for El-Sheikh’s arrest remains.

Snyder’s defense attorneys have portrayed their client as a curious tinkerer and a talented scientist. Snyder, who specialized in cystic fibrosis research, worked under university professor Mark Kurth at the highly regarded Kurth Lab and for a leading University of California, San Francisco, cystic fibrosis researcher. He was recognized as an outstanding graduate student teacher in 2005 and performed postdoctoral work to develop compounds to treat diseases in the developing world.

Snyder received his undergraduate degree from UC Davis in 2004 and his doctorate at the campus in 2011. In January, he was working in a campus laboratory on a two-month appointment.

Snyder remains free on $2 million bail awaiting trial.