HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The state has filed another motion in the case against a 22-year-old man arrested back on June 21, 2016, after a fire and explosion at the Plaza Towers building in downtown Hutchinson
Chase Coble is charged with three counts of aggravated arson and two counts of criminal use of explosives. The first three counts are level three felonies with a maximum sentence on each count of over 20 years in prison.
The state is seeking to introduce evidence relating to internet conversations he had with an unidentified individual, claiming to be from Minnesota, regarding his expertise in chemistry for the purpose of making loud fireworks. The state believes this is admissible based on its relevancy to this case or to establish the defendant’s knowledge.
District Attorney Keith Schroeder also mentions in his motion an incident back on Feb. 9 where, in Salina while working at a local convenience store, he mentioned to a co-worker that he was building a bomb at his Salina home. At first, the co-worker thought he was joking, but later Coble told him he had been investigated by the FBI for domestic terrorism after blowing up his kitchen here in Hutchinson. He invited the co-worker to his home to see the device. That co-worker called Salina Police. That led to a search on the residence, but no explosives were found. They did find a small amount of marijuana, that according to Salina Post.
The case here in Hutchinson starts with Coble experimenting with plastic and chemicals, which apparently got out of hand. Police say he had the chemicals to make black powder to use in explosives, but he claims he wasn’t doing that, saying he was trying to bond metals and plastic components. He says the chemicals spilled and flashed, causing a fire. This occurred in his 12th story apartment, causing damage to that apartment, but also setting off the sprinkler system, causing damage in other apartments. The state contends this wasn’t the first time. They say, on at least three occasions, he had been mixing the chemicals, causing fires in his apartment.
No mention has been made as to when a hearing will be held to hear these motions, but the defense was granted a delay of the trial. We’ll keep you informed.