The trial of a Russell man accused of attempting to kill his wife by blowing up her car with a pipe bomb began Wednesday in Boyd Circuit Court.
Jury selection consumed most of the opening day of the trial of Thomas Biederman, who’s charged with attempted murder and using a weapon of mass destruction. The charges stem from a July 28, 2011, explosion in the parking garage of the Skytower, 1212 Bath Ave., where Biederman’s wife, Janie, worked.
Biederman, 52, could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison if he’s convicted of both charges.
The 14-member jury that will hear the case was empaneled by about 3:30 p.m. Judge George W. Davis III then sent jurors home for the day, with instructions to return at 8:45 a.m. today to hear opening statements from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Greer and Biederman’s attorney, Michael Curtis.
After jurors had left, there was a hearing in open court about the admissability of evidence indicating Biederman was setting off explosives at his home in the late 1990s.
One witness, retired Russell Fire Chief Harry Thomas, testified he went to Biederman’s house to speak to him after receiving a complaint from a neighbor. Thomas said the neighbor told him he’d heard explosions coming from Biederman’s back yard.
Thomas said he saw several holes in the back yard that appeared to have been caused by explosives, but couldn’t say definitely they were. He also said Biederman was less than candid with him when he asked him if he’d been setting off explosives at his home.
“He told me to mind my own business,” he said.
Thomas said he then told Biederman if he received any additional complaints, it could result in law enforcement getting involved. He said he then left and never heard any more complaints.
A former neighbor of Biederman’s, Gene Wells, said he heard a loud bang coming from the direction of Biederman’s house while mowing his lawn one day. He said he went to investigate and saw what appeared to be a smoking crater in Biederman’s back yard.
Wells also said there was talk in the neighborhood that Biederman was making and detonating pipe bombs, but that he’d never seen him do it himself.
Davis ruled the testimony of Thomas and Wells inadmissible, saying that without further corroboration, it would amount to hearsay. But, he didn’t rule out the possibility it could be admitted if the commonwealth could come up with additional corroboration.
During his questioning of prospective jurors, Curtis said Janie Biederman would testify during the trial, as would the couple’s adult children, Ryan and Jordan Biederman.
“This is going to be a case ... that will enthrall you,” he said.
Janie Biederman suffered minor injuries in the blast, which occurred after she touched the brake pedal of her Ford Mustang convertible.
Thomas Biederman was arrested Jan. 19 at the federal courthouse in Ashland by Ashland Police Department officers and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The arrest was the culmination of a joint investigation of the bombing by the APD, the ATF, the Kentucky State Police and other agencies.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.