Eric McDavid — framed by an undercover agent provocateur on conspiracy charges for an alleged “eco-arson” action that never happened — was convicted by a Sacramento jury September 27. Eric, Lauren Weiner, and Zachary Jenson were arrested January 13, 2006 and charged with conspiracy to destroy property. Although the group never carried out any action, Eric now faces up to 20 years in prison. Weiner and Jenson took plea deals and testified against Eric. He is currently in jail and scheduled for sentencing on February 21 (although his sentencing date has been moved back several times — if you want to attend sentencing, check the date first.)
Eric’s trial was seriously flawed. As Slingshot goes to press, his motion for a new trial is being heard. If it is denied, he will likely appeal based on all of the errors at trial. Eric is an innocent person framed because of his involvement in an activist scene that is struggling to alter the disastrous course of the current corporate/industrial society. Eric needs political, financial, and prison support. We are in solidarity with Eric because we’re all working together for a new social order based on cooperation, mutual aid, justice, and environmental sustainability. Together, we reject a life based on consumerism, greed and meaninglessness that is killing the earth.
Eric’s defense depended on convincing the jury that he had been entrapped by Anna, an undercover agent working for the FBI to engineer the supposed “conspiracy” by providing the plans, the inspiration, the funding, the housing and the transportation for her victims, while using the lure of romantic involvement between her and Eric to keep him interested.
After the trial, when the case went to the jury, the jury had been deliberating for two days and were asking questions that seemed to point to a positive outcome for Eric. One of these questions, and the judge’s subsequent answer, radically altered the outcome of Eric’s trial. Before deliberating, the jurors received the following instructions on entrapment:
“The government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not entrapped. The government must prove the following:
1. the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime before being contacted by government agents, or
2. the defendant was not induced by the government agents to commit the crime.
Where a person, independent of and before government contact, is predisposed to commit the crime, it is not entrapment if government agents merely provide an opportunity to commit the crime.”
After deliberating for a while the jury asked judge England when was the “first contact” between FBI agent Anna and Eric. The jury asked this in order to find the relevant time period for determining whether or not Eric was predisposed to commit the crime. The government argued that “first contact” was June of 2005 when they allege the conspiracy began. Eric’s defense attorney Mark Reichel argued that “first contact” was in August of 2004 when Eric first had contact with Anna while she was working as a confidential informant investigating the CrimethInc convergence in Des Moines for the FBI. Judge England told the jury that “first contact is the first time that the defendant and the informant discuss the crime that the defendant is on trial for.” This instruction blatantly contradicts established caselaw which says: “Quite obviously, by the time a defendant actually commits the crime, he will have become disposed to do so. However, the relevant time frame for assessing a defendant’s disposition comes before he has any contact with government agents, which is doubtlessly why it is called predisposition.” (US vs. Poehlman)
When Anna met Eric in August of 2004 she sent a report to the FBI saying that he was not a person of interest, meaning in her eyes he was not predisposed at the time. It was only later, in the summer of 2005, that she suggests he was predisposed to commit the crime — after he had been under the influence of Anna for almost a year.
After the jury issued their verdict, Eric’s attorney conducted informal jury interviews and it became clear how pivotal these instructions were in the jury’s decision to convict. All twelve jurors told Mark they would have acquitted Eric if they had been instructed that “first contact” meant August of 2004, when Eric and Anna first met. The jurors told Mark very openly and clearly that there was a lot of crying in the jury room because they did not want to convict Eric, but that they felt totally obligated to do so once they were instructed that the only relevant time period for evidence was after Eric agreed to the conspiracy with Anna. When Mark told them what his view of the law was, they all agreed they would have acquitted in an hour after the deliberations had begun on Tuesday. One of the jurors was so emotional she could not stay and talk, but when leaving, went right up to the TV News 10 cameraman and gave an on air live interview (which was shown repeatedly on TV) where she stated that the FBI should be embarrassed of themselves for what they did in this case, that they should be ashamed, but they had found that Eric was predisposed based upon the law they received.
Eric has taught us all so much. Most of all, he’s taught us what it means to choose life – to keep pushing forward and doing what’s right — despite tremendous obstacles — and to infuse every moment with joy and love. After the jury delivered their verdict, as Eric was leaving the courtroom he turned to all of us sitting behind him, a look of concern on his face, and reminded us all: “Breathe…..”
Let’s all keep breathing…and keep fighting.
How You Can Help
You can write letters to Eric until he is sentenced at Eric McDavid X-2972521 4E231A Sacramento County Main Jail 651 “I” St Sacramento, CA 95814. After sentencing, he’ll be moved to a federal prison — check the website for a new address. His appeal will be very expensive — any fundraising you can do is appreciated. For more info, check www.supporteric.org