A federal magistrate judge yesterday ordered that Prescott Sigmund remain jailed without bond on a charge stemming from the July 12 pipe bomb explosion that critically injured his half brother in Northwest Washington.
Magistrate Judge Alan Kay also ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to move forward with the case against Sigmund, who surrendered Nov. 9 to police in Missoula, Mont., after authorities charged him in the blast and declared him a fugitive. Sigmund had disappeared from the Washington area July 15.
According to prosecutors, Sigmund told police in Montana that he attempted to kill his father, insurance executive Donald Sigmund, in the explosion, which wounded Wright Sigmund instead.
Robert Poole, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, testified that Wright and Donald Sigmund "are very fearful" of Prescott Sigmund.
During the hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, Poole provided new details of the government's case. He testified that a cell phone call Sigmund made from Northwest Washington showed that he was away from his Potomac home the night of July 10 and that he could have slipped into a parking garage on Wisconsin Avenue NW and planted two pipe bombs in his father's Chevrolet Blazer. The Blazer was usually parked there.
Poole said investigators found copper wire in Sigmund's Potomac home that matched the wire used for the bombs. In addition, he testified, forensic tests showed that cut marks on both pieces of wire were made by the same tool.
Law enforcement authorities have said Sigmund, 35, hoped to benefit financially by killing his father, 65, and that the two had a stormy relationship. Yesterday, Poole testified that Sigmund was in "dire financial straits" and that he was fired by his father in the early 1990s for "very poor work performance."
David Bos, Sigmund's court-appointed attorney, challenged elements of the government's case and suggested that other suspects should have been examined more thoroughly. Bos asked Kay to release Sigmund on bond, saying he has "strong ties to the community" and had turned himself in when he learned of the charges.
Kay sided with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne Hauch, who said Sigmund was a danger to the community and might attempt to flee if he was released before trial. Kay also said "the court cannot discount the statements made in Missoula."
Sigmund, clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, listened intently throughout the proceeding, showing little emotion. His mother, Gwendolyn Sigmund, also sat in the courtroom with a small pad of paper, occasionally jotting notes. She declined to comment later.
Sigmund is charged with interstate transportation of an explosive device with intent to injure an individual. Wright Sigmund, 21, was running an errand for his father at the time of the attack. He is undergoing extensive rehabilitation for his injuries.