Accused Mail Bomb Suspect Makes Florida Court Appearance

(CN) – The man accused of sending pipe bombs through the mail to critics of President Donald Trump appeared in a Miami, Florida courtroom, as a overflow crowd gathered to witness the proceedings.

Fifty-six-year-old Cesar Sayoc was dressed in an orange T-shirt and khaki jumpsuit, and said little during the exceedingly brief hearing before Magistrate Edwin Torres at the James Lawrence King federal justice building.

In the end, the hearing lasted only three minutes, with Sayoc, who sat alone in the back of the jury box , telling the judge his name and answering “yes” when asked if he understood why he was there.

He was represented by attorney James Benjamin who told the court he and other lawyers have only been able to speak with Sayoc through a small window in the solitary housing unit in which he is being held..

King set a bond hearing for Friday.

Sayoc, who was arrested Friday outside a South Florida auto parts store, will ultimately be prosecuted in New York, so all of his Florida appearances in court are expected to be brief and process-oriented.

The main issue this week will be whether he waives extradition to New York and whether he seeks release on bail.

Authorities say Sayoc faces a maximum of 58 years in prison if convicted on all of the federal charges lodged against him. None of the bombs exploded and no one was injured, but the story continues to unfold outside the courtroom.

On Monday morning, bomb squads were called to a post office in Atlanta about a suspicious package sent to CNN.

The FBI said via its Twitter account that the recovered package was “similar in appearance” to  those sent by Sayoc, to Democrats and other prominent critics of President Donald Trump, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamila Harris, and Joe Biden.

CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement that all mail to CNN has been screened offsite since last week, when a series of package bombs began appearing around the country.

Among them were two apparent mail bombs sent to CNN.The packages were intercepted from Delaware to California. At least some listed a return address of U.S. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Sayoc kept a list of elected officials, entertainers and others who investigators believe were intended targets.

an official said authorities had recovered soldering equipment, a printer, and stamps similar to those used on the package bombs. Authorities believe Sayoc was putting explosives together in his van.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP. The official also said that, as part of the investigation, authorities were scrutinizing Sayoc’s social media posts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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