Environmentalist Arrested for Attempted ELF Arson in California

by Will Potter on October 2, 2009

in Terrorism Court Cases

handcuffsAn environmental activist has been arrested in connection with the 2006 attempted arson of homes under construction in Pasadena, California. The government says the action is connected to the Earth Liberation Front.

The FBI alleges that DNA found on cigarettes left at the scene (as part of the incendiary device) matched the DNA of Stephen James Murphy, 43. The FBI says Murphy’s DNA was in a state database for a previous arrest.

The Sept. 19, 2006, incident was unsuccessful, the incendiary device failed to ignite, but the next day “workers at the site could not start a tractor, where a note had been written in permanent marker that read ‘ANOTHER TRACTOR DECOMMISSIONED BY THE E.L.F.'”

I just talked to Murphy’s girlfriend, who said, “Steve is one of the kindest and gentlest souls I have ever met. He would never harm a fly let alone jepordize harming people, animals, or the environment. Not only was he an animal rights activists but he also did humanitarian aid and human rights work. Steve was a friend to everyone in need. Always.”

I’ll keep you posted as more comes out about this case and Stephen Murphy. But here’s something to think about: this is a three-year-old crime that wasn’t successful, didn’t harm anyone, and only involved some vandalism to a tractor. One tractor. And this guy has been extradicted from Texas, and the FBI and prosecutors are moving forward with charges against him (of course it’s too early to say, but given the history of similar ELF cases, a terrorism enhancement penalty could come into play).

Meanwhile, prosecutors don’t have money for DNA testing in death penalty cases. But they can do it for a tractor.

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