Man gets 30 years for bombs he tried to blame on terrorists
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to placing several real and fake bombs on roads in South Carolina, including one attached to a teddy bear, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Wesley Dallas Ayers also placed notes with some of the bombs, trying to make them look like the work of Islamic terrorists, prosecutors said in court papers submitted before he was sentenced Tuesday.
One person was injured from the bombs, suffering burns and minor cuts to his legs when he stopped and opened a wicker box placed near a stop sign, prosecutors said.
Ayers placed three real bombs and three fake bombs in Anderson County in January and February 2018. Most of them contained pictures and letters saying the Islamic State was responsible and threatening to set off more powerful bombs in the future, according to sentencing documents filed by prosecutors in federal court.
Ayers had nothing to do with Islamic terrorists. Instead he was a severely troubled man with a fifth-grade education, angry that his first serious romantic relationship was breaking up, Ayers’ lawyer wrote in court documents.
Ayers set the bombs on roads near where the drug dealers lived — dealers who had him hooked on methamphetamines — to try to scare them out of the drug business, defense attorney Ryan Beasley wrote.
“The Defendant could have placed the devices in more populated areas such as schools, churches or government buildings. Fortunately, he did not do so,” Beasley wrote, as he successfully asked for a shorter prison term than the 40 years requested by prosecutors.
Authorities wanted the longer sentence because the bombs terrorized the county for a month, forcing local law enforcement to call in a half-dozen federal agencies and taking thousands of hours of investigators’ time.
Ayers has “a disposition to act out sadistically towards others and little evidence of an ability to stop,” assistant U.S. Attorney D. Josey Brewer wrote in court documents.
Ayers pleaded guilty in October to using, attempting to use, and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction; possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; and use of an explosive device during the commission of a felony.