Judge weighs ruling before Rotterdam man's bombing trial
Prior bad acts at issue
SCHENECTADY A judge is expected to rule next week on whether alleged prior bad acts by a man accused of plotting a spring 2012 campaign to terrorize a Rotterdam man can be used at his upcoming trial.
The information revolves around possible prior harassment or familiarity with explosive devices similar to those used against the victim’s Rotterdam residence.
Attorneys on both sides Monday made their arguments on whether the jury should hear the information at the trial.
Larry Ahrens is accused of perpetrating the campaign against the boyfriend of his former girlfriend, getting others to damage the man’s home and property through explosive devices.
“The idea was to oust his romantic rival so she would have no choice but to come back,” Prosecutor John Healy told state Supreme Court Justice Michael Coccoma, who is presiding over the case. “It is the same plan we see in so many domestic violence cases, the idea that ‘If I can’t have you, nobody else will.’ ”
Ahrens’ attorney, Cheryl Coleman, argued against allowing the information. Coleman said that some of the communications amounted to little more than the kind of “platitudes” people see on Facebook.
She also argued that some of the other evidence prosecutors want to offer strays into areas that aren’t permissible at trial, essentially getting inadmissible evidence in through the back door.
Ahrens, 33, of Rotterdam, faces multiple counts in the case, including first-degree arson.
He is accused of leading the scheme, recruiting others to damage the rival’s home using a screwdriver and later explosives.
In one instance, on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012, an explosive device blew up on the man’s front porch and smashed his bedroom window as he slept. A week later, another device detonated near a dormer on the second floor of the home, causing damage to the roof.
Three others were charged in connection with the case; those people have taken plea deals.
Ahrens was ordered held last year on $250,000 bail or $750,000 bond. Records show he was released earlier this month after posting the $750,000 bond.
Prosecutor Healy is seeking to use information related to alleged communications between Ahrens and his former girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
No one was injured in the incidents, but thousands of dollars worth of damage was inflicted. The first-degree arson count carries a possible sentence of up to 25 years to life in state prison.
Trial is currently set for late August, but that date is expected to be pushed to later in the year.