Convicted Eco-Terrorist Freed as FBI Admits Error

Eric McDavid is released after 9 years because prosecutors withheld evidence
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2015 9:40 AM CST

A man handed a 19-year prison sentence for environmental terrorism is out after serving nine years—and he's no longer an eco-terrorist in the eyes of the law. Eric McDavid, convicted in 2007 of plotting to attack the Nimbus Dam, a US Forest Service lab, and cellphone towers near Sacramento, Calif., won an early release yesterday in a settlement that saw authorities admit to withholding thousands of pages of documents during his trial, the Sacramento Bee reports. Prosecutors produced evidence last year that defense lawyers say challenged the credibility of the prosecution's key witness. Under the agreement, McDavid, 37, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy and was sentenced to time served. His original conviction was vacated, and he waived any future civil claims, the New York Times reports.

"I've never heard or seen of anything like this," the judge said before approving the agreement, which a lawyer for McDavid said "corrected one of the most egregious injustices I have ever encountered." The withheld evidence included emails between McDavid and an FBI informant, identified as Anna, plus an FBI request for a polygraph test to determine her "veracity," McDavid's lawyers say. They add the evidence shows Anna "fomented the alleged conspiracy," manipulated McDavid's feelings for her, gave McDavid and two co-defendants money, transportation, housing, and food, and pushed them to build homemade explosives. Prosecutors say "none of the omitted items were even remotely exculpatory," but "we don't know exactly why they weren't turned over." (More domestic terrorism stories.)

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