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Molotov cocktail carrier issued warning

Published 5:31pm Sunday, August 5, 2012

An intoxicated man carrying a Molotov cocktail through a Niles residential neighborhood in a backpack received a stern warning from Berrien County Trial Court Judge Dennis Wiley for what could have been disastrous.

Wiley asked Isaac Matthew King, 21, of 1284 Barron Lake Rd., Niles, if he ever read in the newspaper about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the No. 1 killer of U.S. soldiers has been IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.

“You had the equivalent” with his homemade incendiary device, Wiley said. “To say you made a mistake is probably similar to the helmsman on the Titanic. Mistakes like that kill people” — especially after King surrendered the backpack to an unwitting city police officer who stopped the 20-year-old pedestrian on July 12, 2011, at 13th and Maple streets, because King avoided eye contact and smelled of intoxicants, though he appeared too young to drink legally.

Vodka was recovered from the backpack along with the four-inch pipe bomb with wick protruding he made over the Fourth of July, disregarding his father telling him not to, according to the police report.

Police said the defendant became belligerent, cursing the officer and started to become out of control. He carried a folded knife in his front pocket “for protection.” His breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.167.

Manufacturing and possessing a Molotov cocktail is a felony punishable by four years in prison and/or a $2,000 fine.

Assistant Prosecutor Cara Wilkinson advised the court King has no experience with explosives and shouldn’t have been handling the volatile concoction.

She said the defendant clearly wasn’t making good decisions with actions which could have killed others as well as himself.

King apologized to his community and family.

Wiley sentenced King to three years probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered him to pay $2,258, including a $400 fine.

The judge said his “first inclination” was to send King to prison because of the danger he posed to the community, but chalked the incident up to being “young and foolish,” though prison is “almost certain” if he sees him again.

As King has a 10th-grade education, Wiley also ordered him to earn a diploma.

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