LAS VEGAS (AP) — A lawyer asked a Nevada judge on Tuesday to throw out charges of terrorism and possessing weapons of mass destruction against a Las Vegas man being held on $8 million bail after police found large amounts of powders at his home that prosecutors say could be mixed to produce powerful explosions.
Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti said she plans to issue a written ruling in days to come.
Allegations against Nicolai Howard Mork “don’t rise to probable cause for terrorism,” and there was no evidence the compounds found at Mork’s home last Dec. 29 were weaponized for mass destruction, defense attorney Nicholas Wooldridge argued in a hearing called to challenge the foundation of Mork’s arrest.
The substances that Las Vegas police found in Mork’s home are commonly used to make exploding targets for shooting practice and are not illegal to buy or possess, Wooldridge said.
The raid at Mork’s home came two days before New Year’s Eve, which draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to southern Nevada. Authorities have not linked Mork’s actions with the Las Vegas Strip event.
Prosecutor Jacob Villani told the judge on Tuesday that authorities needed to act before Mork hurt people.
“We’re charging intent,” Villani said. “We don’t have to wait for him to actually blow up a building. That’s what the law is for.”
Police reported that a probe of non-injury fires and explosions in yards near where Mork lived led to the discovery of 251 pounds (114 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate, about 26 pounds (12 kilograms) of aluminum powder and almost 10 pounds (4.54 kilograms) of red iron oxide.
Ammonium nitrate was a component of the bomb that destroyed a section of a U.S. federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and killed 168 people. Aluminum powder and iron oxide can burn rapidly when mixed.
Police also seized a bin with 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of a mixture that resembled a commercially available blend used in targets that explode when shot.
Mork pleaded not guilty in April to eight terrorism, weapon possession, explosives and firearm charges. His trial is scheduled Nov. 13.