Lawyer seeks halt to burning of Calif. bomb home

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) – The lawyer for a Southern California man charged with running a virtual bomb factory in his home wants a federal judge to halt Thursday's scheduled burning of the house amid fears important evidence will be destroyed.

A hearing was scheduled Wednesday in San Diego on Michael Berg's emergency request to stop destruction of the home in unincorporated Escondido.

There could be documents and other evidence inside that would be critical to Berg's defense of George Jakubec and “once it's gone, it's gone,” the attorney told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

However, Berg said he had not considered how any materials could be retrieved. Authorities have concluded it is too dangerous to remove anything from the junk-filled home, which investigators said contains pounds of unstable, explosive chemicals used in bomb-making.

They planned to destroy the cache by burning down the house on Wednesday, but pushed back the demolition to Thursday morning in order to ensure that wind conditions wouldn't push possibly toxin-laden smoke over the neighborhood.

People in several dozen nearby homes will be urged to evacuate beginning Wednesday evening. People in another 120 homes are being advised to stay inside with their windows closed during the burning, and nearby Interstate 15 will be shut down for several hours.

Jakubec, a 54-year-old unemployed software consultant, pleaded not guilty Monday to eight federal charges related to making destructive devices and robbing three local banks. He remains jailed without bail and faces 32 to 132 years in prison if convicted.

Investigators said unfinished shrapnel grenades, jars and jugs of chemicals that have been used by terrorists and suicide bombers to create homemade explosives were found in the Jakubec's rented home last month after a gardener was injured when he stepped on chemical residue in the backyard.

Mario Garcia, 49, suffered eye, chest and arm injuries.

Prosecutors contend that Jakubec packed the ranch-style home with the largest amount of homemade explosives ever found in one location in the U.S. and was running a virtual bomb-making factory. But they say it is unclear what he planned to do with them.

His estranged wife has told the Union-Tribune that Jakubec became increasingly unstable since losing his job several years ago.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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