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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Planned Parenthood bomber’s crony gets 3 1/2 years in prison

The Florida resident is the second of three plotters to be sentenced for the March 2022 bombing of the Costa Mesa, California, clinic.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — An accomplice of the former U.S. Marine who firebombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Southern California was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in federal prison Monday for his role in the crime.

Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida, will also see three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison, according to a statement from federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.

Batten pleaded guilty in January to possession of an unregistered destructive device and to intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility, a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. He has been in custody since July 2023.

According to his plea agreement, Batten advised Chance Brannon, the former Marine, in March of 2022 on how to build a Molotov cocktail that he knew would be used to target a Planned Parenthood clinic. Brannon and another accomplice, Tibet Ergul, assembled the Molotov cocktail and threw it at the entrance of the clinic in Costa Mesa in the middle of the night, starting a fire and forcing the facility to temporarily close.

Minutes after the firebombing, Brannon texted Batten to let him know that they had accomplished their plan.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney gave Batten a longer sentence than the 37 months the prosecution had asked for. The judge, according to the U.S. attorney's statement, said that Batten had committed a “cowardly crime” that showed “no empathy for women and their rights.”

“[Batten’s] willingness to help his co-defendants firebomb a health care clinic from afar, without being present to check for people or control the circumstances, reflects a seeming apathy to whether anyone would be hurt or killed as a result of his tutelage,” prosecutors argued in the sentencing memorandum.

Batten's lawyer with the Federal Public Defender's Office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Batten instructed Brannon through text messages on how to assemble a Molotov cocktail, with Brannon at one point asking how much styrofoam he needed to use.

Batten responded: "You don’t need an exact measurement just ensure you have at least a few inches," and "You can also just do as much as it will dissolve. The point is adhesion."

Brannon responded: "God bless" and "Pray for our success," to which Batten replied, "I will right now."

Brannon, who was an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton when he and Ergul targeted the Costa Mesa clinic, last month was sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

The pair also plotted to attack a Southern California Edison substation to disrupt the power grid in Orange County, and they discussed and researched an attack on Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on the team's LGBTQ pride night in the summer of 2023.

He and Ergul had intended to attack a second Planned Parenthood clinic in Orange County with a Molotov cocktail in June 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but they scrapped that plan when they noticed law enforcement near the targeted clinic.

According to the prosecution, Brannon used racial slurs for various minority groups and “made hateful comments toward all non-white individuals,” and discussed “cleansing” the United States of particular ethnic groups. In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Brannon texted a friend, “Can we just be done with elections and have the race war already.”

Ergul has also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Follow @edpettersson
Categories / Courts, Criminal, Health, Regional

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