Suspect in explosion near Colorado NAACP office denied bail

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Posted: Feb 25, 2015 1:43 PM
Suspect in explosion near Colorado NAACP office denied bail

DENVER (AP) — A judge says a man accused of setting off a small explosion last month near a Colorado NAACP office is a danger to the community and must stay jailed without bail.

At a hearing Tuesday, a public defender argued 44-year-old Thaddeus Murphy was angry at one person and is not a danger to wider the community.

The blast drew national attention because of its proximity to the Colorado Springs office of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. But Murphy told investigators he had financial problems and was actually targeting an accountant who once worked in the building.

It's unclear if he knew the accountant, Steve DeHaven, died in June.

Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe says Murphy suffers from mental illnesses including anxiety and depression and is a flight risk because of a history of missing court appearances.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A federal judge will decide whether a man accused of setting off a small explosion that rattled nerves because of its proximity to a Colorado NAACP office should stay jailed before his trial.

A detention hearing is set for Wednesday for 44-year-old Thaddeus Murphy, who was charged with arson of a building and being a felon in possession of a firearm after the Jan. 6 blast. A grand jury indicted him on Tuesday.

Investigators say Murphy told them he was distraught about his financial problems and was actually targeting his accountant.

Court records show Murphy admitted to making a pipe bomb in his garage and setting it off outside the because he was angry the accountant did not return his phone calls or give him back his tax records. It is unclear whether Murphy knew the accountant, Steve DeHaven, died in June in Mesa, Arizona. DeHaven, pleaded guilty in 2010 to filing false tax returns and was released from federal prison in April 2013.

It's also unclear whether DeHaven ever worked in the low-slung building, which houses a barber shop and the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP. A sign for an accountant's business was still on the wall of the building last week, but NAACP leaders said it has been closed for 20 years. The chapter's president, Henry D. Allen Jr. was skeptical of Murphy's confession, but has not said whether he thinks the nation's oldest civil rights organization was the target.

The crude explosive failed to ignite a gas canister set next to it and caused only minor damage.

Authorities initially investigated the blast as a potential hate crime. Prosecutors have determined the blast was not a case of domestic terrorism but are still investigating Murphy's confession.