Patrick Louise Mullens said he was still unpacking after moving from New Orleans to a Baltimore County town house when he decided to turn his quiet New Year's Eve into a real blast.

He hauled out one of the cannon he collects -- a one-third-scale copy of a pre-Revolutionary War artillery piece -- poured in gunpowder, aimed low and let the resulting blast thunder through the midnight air.

The next morning, Assistant State's Attorney John S. Denholm, who had spent the night at a party forgetting work-related threats to his life. walked into a spare, second story bedroom in his own town house nearby and discovered that a projectile had torn a hole through some aluminum siding, passed through the headboard and pillow of a twin bed, continued through an interior wall, punctured one wooden desk and dented a second beforedropping to the floor.

Police said they first thought an attempt had been made on Denholm's life, but noted that the prijectile apparently hadn't come from "any modern type of rifle." They peered through the holes and concluded that the shot apparently came from Mullens' patio about 400 feet away.

Mullens was charged with destruction of property, unlawful possession of an explosive (gunpowder) and discharging a firearm.