UPDATE: Prosecution rests in Raucci case after jury sees, hears explosives

Some jurors flinched as they watched a video showing the explosion of devices equivalent to those al

The prosecution’s arson and terrorism case against Steven Raucci ended with a bang this afternoon as Schenectady County Court jurors got a graphic depiction on the power of the explosive devices linked to Raucci.

Test videos entered into evidence showed the destructive power of the Raucci-linked devices as opposed to commercially available firecrackers.

The firecrackers barely did any damage to test materials of ballistics gel, a concrete block and a mailbox.

Devices equivalent to those allegedly used by Raucci, however, exploded, obliterating the test materials. Some jurors flinched .

After questioning Thomas J. Mohnal, a supervisory special agent with the FBI, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney rested his case.

Mohnal testified he supervised the creation of six videos, three each with the most powerful commercially available firecrackers and three with devices similar to those Raucci allegedly left on a Schodack home, a Clifton Park car and one found by police in Raucci’s middle school office.

The comparable explosive devices were recovered in an unrelated explosive case from Johnstown, Pa.

Raucci defense attorney Ronald De Angelus has attempted to portray the devices linked to his client as firecrackers.

Mohnal testified the explosive devices had 300 times the power as the most powerful explosive device available to the public.

To illustrate the point, Carney entered into evidence two containers, one with 15 grams of powdered sugar, equivalent to the Raucci-linked devices, and the other with the much smaller amount of 50 mg, the equivalent of commercial firecracker.

Earlier today, a state police forensics technician testified that the DNA found on a cigarette used as a fuse on an explosive in Schodack was an identical match with a DNA sample taken from Steven Raucci.

Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, is on trial on numerous counts of criminal mischief and serious felonies of arson and terrorism.

Kristine Robinson of the state police Forensics Center, under questioning by Carney, said she compared the DNA profile from the cigarette at the January 2007 Schodack crime scene to Raucci’s DNA

Carney asked if it was an identical match.

“Yes it is,” Robinson said.

DNA tests were also done in February 2010 on three explosive devices, one from Clifton Park, one from Schodack and one that police said they found in Raucci’s office at the Mont Pleasant Middle School.

Tests performed on the tube of the explosive device found in Raucci’s office found DNA consistent with Raucci’s DNA. A second donor is included, but Raucci’s DNA was the major contributor.

The Schodack wick was consistent with Raucci’s DNA, and Raucci’s DNA could not be excluded from the tube of the Schodack device.

No DNA was found on the Clifton Park wick, and no conclusions could be made from the Clifton Park tube.

For both the Schodack cigarette butt and the device tube from Raucci’s office, Robinson estimated the chance that the DNA profiles came from someone other than Raucci at 1 in 300 billion. There are only about 6 billion people in the world today.

Rounding out the morning was testimony by David McCollam, of the FBI explosives unit.

McCollam testified he tested the powders taken from the three explosive devices in evidence and determined them to be “flash powder.” It was the same substance described in testimony Wednesday by state police Chief Tech. Sgt. Timothy Fischer as being a component of explosive devices that he fears the most. The substance is dangerous and unstable, Fischer testified. It can detonate with static or impact.

Carney asked Fischer Wednesday about the damage similar devices can do.

He said they can blow off hands and cause damage comparable to dynamite.

Raucci’s defense has attempted to portray them as firecrackers.

“Can these in any way be classified as firecrackers?” Carney asked Fischer. “No, not at all,” Fischer said. “They’re bombs.”

Raucci is the former facilities director of the Schenectady City School District and former president of the local union representing employees he supervised. The prosecution contends that his dual role made him especially valuable to district officials and that they were unresponsive to complaints about his behavior from other employees.

Categories: Schenectady County

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