Mentzer Released On Bond
NEW CUMBERLAND – A Weir High School student accused of plotting to bomb his school is free on $50,000 bond.
Mark Mentzer, 19, was released Friday after paying the sum, according to a Northern Regional Jail official who declined to be named.
Another Weir High School student, 19-year-old Josh Little, also accused of plotting to bomb the school, remained in the jail at press time, the official said.
Earlier Friday, Hancock County Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan denied a motion to reduce Mentzer’s bond that was set at $100,000.
Why Mentzer instead paid $50,000 and was freed could not be determined at press time. A spokeswoman for Gaughan said late Friday that he kept the same bond amounts on all charges, and noted what occurred after the hearing could only be answered by the magistrate clerk.
Also on Friday, Little’s motion to have his $22,600 bond reduced was denied by Hancock County Magistrate Scott Hicks.
Mentzer and Little were arrested in September after police reportedly traced anonymous text message threats sent to students at that school back to Mentzer. A search of Mentzer’s home reportedly uncovered weapons, bomb-making materials, racist writings and a map of the school. He is charged on felony counts of making terrorist threats, possessing explosive materials without a permit, prohibiting civil rights and nighttime burglary, and a misdemeanor count of disrupting school activities.
Little is charged with a felony count of making terrorist threats and misdemeanor counts of disrupting school activities and disorderly conduct.
In circuit court Friday, Mentzer’s attorney, Fred Risovich, argued the $100,000 set for his client violated his right of due process. “This bail … is on its face so excessive that (Mentzer) is effectively being denied bail,” he said. “This isn’t a capital case. He has no job, he has no assets, he has no funds.”
Risovich also argued the weapons and ammunition seized by Weirton police were locked in a closet at the Mentzer home, and that the “explosive materials” were nothing more than a degreaser used to clean guns, a plastic tube purchased more than 20 years ago by Mentzer’s father – a former reserve police officer – and CO2 cartridges that he said were already opened and used as an intoxicating inhalant.
He added the alleged map of the school was completely unrecognizable as such, and seized books on concealed traps and outdoor survival were purchased years ago by Mentzer’s father.
Hancock County Prosecutor James Davis Jr. responded, noting the items seized could be used to make an explosive device and a white supremacist group known as the Hammerskin Nation had invited “Mentzer and his cohorts” to join. Davis also showed the judge a note police found in Mentzer’s pocket when he was arrested. That note includes passages such as “if you are reading this it is most likely that I have died” and “if we do not stop whats happening we will have no more pride we will all be one giant mix of god knows what.”
Risovich said that note wasn’t a suicide note, but had been in Mentzer’s pocket “for weeks.” He said his client knew that his white supremacist views had offended many people and he had been absent from school for two days before his arrest because he had been threatened with assault. Risovich said Mentzer carried the note in case he was killed by those people.
“What we have here is a very stupid kid who has very stupid ideas,” he said. “They’re not illegal.”
After a recess, Gaughan decided to continue Mentzer’s bond at the current amount of $100,000, remarking that despite a strong showing of family support he was concerned that if released, Mentzer could pose a flight risk and commit similar offenses to the ones he was charged with.
Both Mentzer and Little appeared Friday morning before Hicks. Each waived their right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of their arrest, but retained their right to have such a hearing. Mentzer’s preliminary hearing will be scheduled at a later date, while Little’s was scheduled for 1 p.m. Oct. 14.
Hicks denied a motion by Little’s attorney, Christopher Sheetz, to have his client’s bond reduced. Sheetz said Little had never before been charged with an adult offense, and he was never found to be in possession of weapons or explosives.
However, Davis pointed out Little had stayed at the Mentzer residence for a period prior to the pairs’ arrests.