Alleged 'bishop bomber' takes the stand
May 3, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A former Iowa letter carrier accused of sending pipe bombs and threatening letters took the witness stand Thursday.
John Tomkins, the so-called "bishop bomber," is representing himself. Thursday, he admitted sending the letters and the phony devices.
With his back literally against the wall, Tomkins took the stand in his own defense Thursday, answering questions from his standby counsel Brian Lipoma Tomkins admitted guilt to all the counts against him except for the 13th and last, that the pipe bomb he made was a destructive device.
Tomkins maintained that he rigged it so it would not go off and thus was not guilty of the charge that carries a 30 year minimum prison sentence.
Ron Kalish is a litigator watching the trial.
"The prosecutor is much more skilled and experienced at it than in individual representing themselves," said Kalish, "and you don't have that lawyer sitting at the table making objections preventing you from saying things that may not belong in your testimony."
Federal prosecutor Patrick Pope in his rebuttal to Tomkins subsequent closing argument said Tomkins was a liar and was asking jurors -- six women and nine men. three of whom are alternates -- to ignore the facts and their oath to apply the law impartially.
In his closing argument, Tomkins tore off his clip-on tie and said he was a machinist and a middle-income American who got in over his head. But, by design, he did not intend for the bombs to go off .
"Certainly, he can testify that he didn't intend for these devices to ever explode," said Kalish. "However, if these devices were capable of exploding, certainly it would undermine his position that he didn't intend them to explode."
The jury will begin its deliberations Friday morning.
local, ravi baichwal
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