Court Upholds Use of Chemical Weapons Law

     (CN) – The 3rd Circuit upheld the chemical-weapons conviction of a microbiologist who tried to poison her husband’s lover by spreading highly toxic chemicals on the other woman’s home doorknob, car door handles and mailbox.

     Carol Anne Bond pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon, and two counts of mail theft for trying to harm her former friend, Myrlinda Haynes, who had got pregnant by Bond’s husband.
     Bond stole some 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine from her employer, chemical manufacturer Rohm and Haas, and ordered a vial of potassium dichromate over the Internet. She then tried to poison Haynes 24 times over several months.
     Half a teaspoon of 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine is lethal if ingested, and a few crystals are highly toxic. Potassium dichromate is even more dangerous; less than one-quarter of a teaspoon ingested can kill.
     Haynes often noticed and avoided the chemicals, but once burned her thumb. She complained to police, who told her to clean her car and door handles regularly, as the substance might be cocaine. Frustrated, she turned to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which put up surveillance cameras.
     Cameras caught Bond opening Haynes’ mailbox, stealing a business envelope and placing potassium dichromate in the muffler of Haynes’ car.
     Inspectors also discovered that nearly four pounds of the chemical were missing at the Rohm and Haas center where Bond worked.
     The evidence led to an arrest warrant for Bond, and search warrants for Bond’s car and home, where inspectors found pieces of Haynes’ mail and traces of the chemicals.
     At a holding cell in the Philadelphia Post Office, Bond admitted to taking the chemicals from her employer. She was charged with possession and use of chemical weapons and mail theft.
     Though she ultimately pleaded guilty, she appealed the district court’s refusal to suppress certain evidence and dismiss the chemical weapons charges. She also appealed her sentence of six years in jail, five years probation, $2,000 fine and nearly $10,000 in restitution.
     In an argument raised before the 3rd Circuit for the first time, Bond challenged the criminal-weapons law under which she was charged. She claimed it violates the Constitution’s principles of federalism by allowing federal prosecution of “localized” crimes.
     But Bond lacks standing to pursue this claim, the Philadelphia-based appeals court ruled, because she “does not even attempt to argue that her interests are aligned with those of the state.”
     The district court made the right call in denying Bond’s pre-trial motions and imposing her sentence, the 3rd Circuit ruled.

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