A report from David Koon from the federal courthouse:
A jury has been seated and opening statements have wrapped up in the federal trial of the Dr. Randeep Mann and his wife, Sangeeta "Sue" Mann. Mann is charged with the use of a weapon of mass destruction in the Feb. 4, 2009, explosion at the West Memphis home of Dr. Trent Pierce, chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board. Pierce lost one eye and was injured in the face, leg and arm when he went to move a booby-trapped spare tire that had been placed in front of his Lexus. Mann's wife is charged with aiding in tampering with evidence, lying to a federal grand jury, and conspiracy to obstruct proceedings.
In their opening statement, U.S. attorneys said that there is no forensic evidence or eyewitnesses to link Randeep Mann to the bombing. However, they cited Mann's collection of over 200 machine guns, grenade launchers and sub machine guns as proof that he was "obsessed with firearms" who was "intent on harming someone." Mann also had manuals in his home discussing the use of MK3A2 hand grenades, the type used in the Pierce bombing.
Prosecutors said Mann had motive to harm Pierce because the medical board had revoked Mann’s medical license. They did so after a Mann violated an earlier revocation of his DEA license to dispense scheduled drugs.
When Mann was questioned about the bombing at his home in London, Ark., on Feb. 5, prosecutors said, he told investigators "I know why you're here," and later showed them his gun collection. Later, a county worker found a buried ammo box 875 feet from Mann's home containing grenades (though not MK3A2 grenades). The container they were hidden in, prosecutors said, was identical to one found at Mann's house.
The defense also pointed out the lack of physical and eyewitness evidence tying Mann to the bombing. Mann, they said, was a firearms collector who has held a federal license since 1990 that allows him to purchase machine guns. Calling his guns a "good investment," they noted that Mann's collection — containing firearms from 13 countries — was at one time insured for over $1 million dollars. They said that since moving to Pope County, Mann and his family have been the constant target of "crazy" and "scandalous" rumors, which led to him being called before the medical board. Though Mann did admit that he'd over-prescribed some medications, leading to the loss of his license to prescribe controlled substances in 2006, defense attorneys said the medical board had unanimously agreed to schedule a June 2009 hearing that could have restored Mann's right to prescribe painkillers and other narcotics.
The case is being heard in District Judge Brian Miller's court. Little Rock lawyer Jack Lassiter is representing Mann.