Case of student bomb hoax pending
What ever happened to the college student from Maui who was arrested at the Boston airport because she was wearing what looked like a bomb?
Answer: The attorney for Star Simpson told a judge yesterday that she had a First Amendment right to express herself that way.
Attorney Thomas Dwyer Jr. asked a judge to throw out the charge against Star Simpson, 19, who is accused of possessing a hoax device. East Boston District Court Judge Paul Mahoney said he would issue a ruling March 21.
Simpson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student from Lahaina, had gone to Logan International Airport last September to pick up her boyfriend.
She was held at gunpoint and arrested by state troopers after an alarm was raised over the battery-powered blinking circuit board attached to her shirt, which had the words "Socket to me" and "Course VI" (a major at MIT) written on the back.
Dwyer said his client, who is studying electrical engineering and computer science, did not think her shirt would scare anyone. He said she had worn it on campus without alarming anyone.
"People make these objects part of their identity. It's a part of their personal expression," he said. "They are legitimate forms of First Amendment expression."
Dwyer also argued that state law does not clearly define what a hoax device is. The charge carries a penalty of up to 212 years and a $5,000 fine.
Assistant District Attorney Stephen Kerr said that police officers who arrested Simpson determined that a reasonable person would think Simpson was wearing an infernal device, which includes bombs and other explosives.
The terminal was not evacuated and flights were not affected. But authorities expressed amazement that someone would wear the device to the airport where two of the jets hijacked in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took off.
This update was written by the Associated Press.
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