SANTA FE, N.M. — A Metropolitan Court judge found there was no probable cause to arrest or detain Jeremy Danielson, the Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist accused in a fake bomb scare that shut down the Albuquerque International Sunport on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
Though the charges were not formally dismissed, the criminal case against him is likely finished. The 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office would have to indict Danielson on the felony charges he was accused of, an action the DA’s spokesman said is unlikely.
“The guy didn’t do anything wrong. Why would we prosecute?” DA spokesman Phil Sisneros said.
But he said the office has not yet received the case from law enforcement and will not make a formal decision on the indictment until that happens.
Danielson, 40, is a physicist with no criminal history who was carrying a non-working mock-up device to use in a demonstration at a Department of Energy conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, according to his statement to investigators.
His attorney, Dan Cron, said Danielson notified TSA that it would want to look at his carry-on bag as he was putting it on the conveyor belt.
Investigators apparently believed the mock-up could have been an explosive device, and called in the Albuquerque Police Department’s bomb squad.
The airport was shut down and some flights grounded for about two hours.
Danielson told investigators he had planned to explain the device was not dangerous.
They decided to charge him with a fourth-degree felony of having a facsimile or hoax bomb or explosive. He was taken to jail and quickly bonded out on a $2,500 cash or surety bail.
He made his first appearance in front of Judge Courtney Weaks on Tuesday afternoon, and Cron argued that there was no probable cause to have arrested Danielson.
The law Danielson was charged under requires that the suspect intend for people to think a device is a bomb, and Cron said Danielson never intended for anyone to think that.
“I will go ahead and agree with you at this point and do a finding of no probable cause,” she said. She also ordered that he be released without posting bail, even though he had already paid it.
After the hearing, Cron said he was pleased with the judge’s decision.
“The judge did the proper thing, because under the statute, the conduct described does not constitute any kind of a crime,” he said. “The judge did the right thing, and this was what I had hoped.”
Meanwhile, the conference on Capitol Hill continued Tuesday without Danielson.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told the Journal in Washington on Tuesday that he couldn’t comment on Danielson’s predicament.
“That’s going through the legal processes now, so I can’t comment,” Moniz said.
Journal Washington Bureau Chief Michael Coleman and Digital Editor Robert Browman contributed to this report.