A U.S. magistrate ordered Michael Donald Bray held without bail today on charges of conspiring to bomb eight Washington area abortion clinics and related facilities.
Appearing before a courtroom packed with about 40 antiabortion activists claiming Bray's innocence, Magistrate Paul Rosenberg ordered the 32-year-old Bowie man held pending a further hearing Wednesday.
"God bless you, brother," a spectator shouted as federal marshals led Bray into the courtroom.
A complaint filed in federal court today charges Bray with conspiring with two other Maryland men -- Thomas E. Spinks, 37, of Bowie, and Kenneth William Shields, 34, of Laurel -- to attack abortion clinics and other prochoice organizations beginning in February 1984 and ending with their arrests Saturday. The complaint also says unspecified "others" are part of the alleged conspiracy.
One piece of evidence against Bray, according to an affidavit filed in support of the complaint, was a hair on a tape used in a bomb that exploded Jan 1. at the Hillcrest Women's Surgi-Center in Southeast Washington. Government investigators matched the hair under a microscope with a sample of Bray's hair, according to the affidavit.
The match, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Mathias, "demonstrates that Mr. Bray was involved in the making of bombs."
The affidavit does not explain how agents obtained the hair sample, and nothing in the affidavit specifically links Bray to any of the other bombings.
The affidavit states that Elizabeth Spinks, wife of one of the men arrested Saturday, told ATF agents who interviewed her Saturday that, shortly before Christmas, she saw Bray and her husband enter a part of their house that agents later discovered was the place where bombs were made. The affidavit does not state whether the interview occurred before or after the arrests.
According to the affidavit, Elizabeth Spinks told agents that the two men closed the door behind them and remained there for some time.
In addition, the affidavit states, evidence seized during a search of Spinks' house Saturday revealed a slip of paper with Bray's name and telephone number and maps showing the location of abortion clinics that have been bombed.
Earlier today, Rosenberg postponed Bray's hearing for nearly two hours, saying the government had not presented sufficient evidence to charge Bray, who was arrested without a warrant. He allowed federal prosecutors to redraft the affidavit to include additional evidence against Bray, and then authorized the filing of formal charges.
Bray's lawyer, Robert Muse, argued during the 30-minute hearing that "the evidence is just not there" to link his clients with the attacks. "The real charges are made against the other people," he said. He said the allegations in the affidavit demonstrate only "tangential, superficial, almost noninvolvement by Mr. Bray" in the alleged conspiracy.
Among the allegations in the affidavit, Muse said, were descriptions of Bray's activities picketing and sitting in at abortion clinics as part of the Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project.
"You can't translate that into something that is an element of criminality," Muse said.
Bray, who wore a dark sweater and corduroy slacks, apologized to Magistrate Rosenberg for not dressing better, saying he had not had a chance to change clothes.
Prosecutors invoked a new "preventive detention" law in asking that Bray be held without bond. Rosenberg scheduled a hearing Wednesday to determine whether prosecutors have "clear and convincing evidence" that Bray would present a potential danger to the community if he is released before standing trial.
The courtroom was crowded with Bray supporters, including former Maryland lieutenant governor Sam Bogley and his wife, Rita, antiabortion activists who also live in Bowie.
"I don't think anything that has come out today has caused us to lose any faith and trust in Mike," Bogley said after the hearing.
Bray was arrested Saturday night as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms held a press conference to announce the arrest of Spinks and Shields.
Separate bail hearings for Spinks and Shields are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Federal prosecutors said they plan to invoke the preventive detention statute to hold Spinks and Shields without bail as well.
"You've got violent crime -- crimes against property but still violent -- and that's a pretty good hallmark of dangerousness," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cynkar, who will ask that the case against Shields be moved to Baltimore so that prosecutors there can handle the charges against all three men.
ATF spokesman Jack Killorin said today that federal agents arrested Bray, acting on verbal authorization from federal prosecutors, but that a federal magistrate was unavailable to hear the charges.
Instead, agents presented Bray before a Maryland state commissioner empowered to order a federal suspect temporarily held in state custody under a reciprocity agreement between the State of Maryland and the federal government.
"I don't think they have anything at all" linking Bray to the bombings, his brother Daniel, an antiabortion activist who also was arrested in the Wheaton sit-in, said in an interview at the courthouse. Harry Hand, head of the prolife project, noted that Michael Bray's wife, Jayne, gave birth to their third child Dec. 31, one day before the New Year's bombing.
Daniel Bray said ATF agents have been stationed outside his brother's home intermittently since Saturday and, earlier today, took pictures of people entering and leaving the house, at 2927 Tarragon La. The agents have twice asked to search the house, but have not produced a search warrant, he said.