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Teen pleads not guilty to pen caper

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A Rosemead teen accused of masterminding a series of exploding pen incidents that injured three people pleaded not guilty Wednesday to nine felony charges. Brian Rocha, 18, is charged with three counts of explosion of a destructive device causing bodily injury and two counts of possession of a destructive device near a school. He also faces charges of one count of sale or transportation of a destructive device, one count of maintaining a booby-trap device, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of possession of the ingredients to make a destructive device. Rocha was arraigned Wednesday before Rio Hondo Superior Court Judge Steven P. Sanora and was ordered back to the El Monte courtroom on Feb. 8. His bail was set at $2.65 million. Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said Rocha’s next court appearance will be to decide if a trial is necessary or if a plea agreement is possible. The District Attorney’s Office said Rocha could face more than 25 years in prison if convicted on all nine counts. The three exploding-pen incidents happened at El Monte High School on Dec. 2 and near Rosemead High School on Aug. 24 and Sept. 17. Two students and a woman suffered minor injuries when they picked up the booby-trapped pens, which exploded in their hands. At the time of the incidents and his arrest on Dec. 7, Rocha was 17. On Jan.23, Pomona Juvenile Court Judge Daniel S. Lopez ordered him to stand trial as an adult. Investigators got an anonymous tip that led them to Rocha’s Rosemead home where they found components similar to those needed to make the devices found at and near the high schools, authorities said. Investigators allege Rocha left the pens rigged to explode on and around the high school campuses as revenge for his expulsion from Rosemead High School. El Monte Union High School District officials declined to say why Rocha was expelled from Rosemead High School, citing student privacy. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109last_img read more

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