Trial begins for Navy Sailor accused in USS Bonhomme Richard fire in San Diego –

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Trial started Monday for a younger Navy sailor accused of setting a fireplace that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego.

Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, faces costs of arson and willful hazarding of a vessel for allegedly setting the blaze that started July 12, 2020, and burned for a number of days whereas the warship was docked at Naval Base San Diego.

Mays’ trial is anticipated to final two weeks and his destiny will probably be determined solely by a navy choose, moderately than a jury panel of fellow servicemembers. He faces as much as life in jail if convicted.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mays set the blaze as a result of he was disgruntled with the Navy after dropping out of the SEAL coaching program.

Cmdr. Leah O’ Brien, for the prosecution, described the alleged arson in her opening assertion as “a mischievous act of defiance gone mistaken.” After failing to achieve his final objective of changing into a Navy SEAL, Mays was assigned to the Bonhomme Richard’s deck division, a job he had “a visceral hatred” for, she alleged.

The prosecutor mentioned the following investigation left “little doubt this fireplace was arson” and was most certainly attributable to touching an open flame to flamable materials, in addition to utilizing an accelerant like paint thinner or gasoline.

Mays has denied any position within the hearth. His attorneys say investigators missed one other potential suspect and didn’t correctly decide whether or not the fireplace might have been sparked inadvertently.

Considered one of Mays’ attorneys, Lt. Tayler Haggerty, mentioned the prosecution was counting on a single witness who alleges he noticed Mays enter the ship’s Decrease Car Storage Space — the place investigators say the fireplace originated — simply previous to the blaze breaking out.

That sailor allegedly mentioned he noticed Mays stroll towards the “Decrease V” whereas carrying a bucket and heard him say “I like Deck” in a sarcastic tone.

One other sailor who escorted Mays to the brig after he was arrested alleged Mays admitted to setting the fireplace, although Haggerty contended Mays at all times maintained his innocence. The protection lawyer claimed Mays mentioned, “If I’m going to the brig, I suppose I did it,” and that investigators have been utilizing the assertion in opposition to Mays “whereas ignoring the apparent sarcastic nature and context.”

Mays’ protection group has contended that when NCIS investigators pinned Mays because the perpetrator, they ignored one other Bonhomme Richard sailor who they allege is a extra seemingly suspect.

Haggerty mentioned that not like Mays, the opposite sailor frequented the Decrease V as a part of his duties, and labored in one other space of the ship the place a special hearth occurred in June 2020. The reason for that fireplace, which originated in a Styrofoam cup, was by no means decided.

The lawyer mentioned this sailor, who was additionally disgruntled with the Navy, made web searches simply previous to the Bonhomme Richard blaze concerning “hearth colour warmth scale” and could possibly be linked to graffiti scrawled in moveable bathrooms on and close to the ship that learn, “I did it. I set the ship on hearth. (Expletive) the ship. 1 down, 3 to go.”

Haggerty mentioned investigators additionally ignored a attainable connection to a different July 12 hearth that occurred on the USS Essex, which was docked a couple of mile away from the Bonhomme Richard. She mentioned that fireplace — which was set on a mattress — was decided to be arson and that investigators sought to hyperlink Mays to that fireplace, however couldn’t.

Gary Barthel, an lawyer who beforehand represented Mays within the case, informed reporters exterior the Naval Base courtroom that in his opinion, Mays was being utilized by the Navy as a “scapegoat” so as to “deflect additional negligence away from themselves.”

Barthel mentioned the Decrease V had change into a “dumping floor” of fabric that “shouldn’t have been saved down there” and “may need been the reason for the fireplace on this case.”

Whereas Mays is the one individual criminally charged within the hearth, the Navy issued a letter of censure earlier this yr to the previous commander of its U.S. Pacific Fleet, alleging management failures stemming from the fireplace, and likewise issued 27 “particular person disposition choices” concerning hearth prevention, readiness and response efforts aboard the ship.

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Written by: soft fm radio staff

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