The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 2, 2008

Teen convicted of possessing explosives

Materials to make a bomb were found in apartment

BLUE EARTH — For the second time in two years John Yahnke faced charges related to bomb-making activities. This week a Faribault County jury, after deliberating an hour, unanimously found the 18-year-old guilty of possession of one or more explosive materials with intent to manufacture.

“Disappointed,” was the reaction of Yahnke’s public defender, Bill Grogin of Fairmont to the verdict Wednesday. “The jury relied on the statements of one 15-year-old girl to convict my client.”

Grogin said that initially when the 15-year-old witness first talked to police, her statement was that Yahnke said, “Don’t go into the kitchen, I’m building a bomb in there.”

At the trial, however, she claimed other people were in the room and that Yahnke asked her and a friend if they had a checking account so he could buy a bomb.

“It shows she was being untruthful,” Grogin said. The defense attorney also said that until the trial testimony, he was not aware other people were in Yahnke’s apartment at the time.

“The police didn’t do a full investigation,” Grogin said.

Brian Roverud, Faribault County attorney, said, “I think the difference between the two statements were minor. They were always consistent. There may have been exact wording, but the tenor was the same.”

The prosecutor added, “Even if the jury decided to disregard her testimony, and I don’t know if they did, every item that was needed to make a bomb was in the apartment. The jury reviewed the evidence and came to the conclusion that he intended to manufacture a bomb. We never said he had a bomb, but the materials were all there.”

Yahnke, who took the stand, said he did not intend to build a bomb. A forensic scientist from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, however, testified Yahnke had all of the necessary materials to construct a bomb.

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