Jury gets case in Utah library explosion trial

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The fate of a man accused of planting a pipe bomb in the Salt Lake City Library now lies in the hands of a federal jury.

Thomas Zajac faces seven charges relating to the explosion at the library in September of 2006, but Zajac's attorneys pointed the finger at someone else.

The jury heard closing arguments Friday morning and then deliberated for two hours before breaking for the weekend.

Defense attorneys tried to pin the crime on Thomas Zajac's son, Adam Zajac, but prosecutors say the evidence speaks for itself.

"Anybody who saw that device knew that it was designed to kill. If anybody had been near that device when it went off, they likely would have been killed or seriously injured." Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard McKelvie

Asst. U.S. Attorney for Utah Richard McKelvie said, "We feel very confident about our case. We had strong evidence."

Federal prosecutors say Thomas Zajac's fingerprint was on a piece of cardboard used in the bomb. During closing arguments, they showed the jury phone and credit card records that show he traveled from the Midwest to Utah in the fall of 2006. Surveillance pictures also show Zajac in the Salt Lake City Library on Sept. 15 within an hour of a pipe bomb exploding on the third floor.

No one was hurt, but the blast damaged a window and forced 400 people to flee.

"Anybody who saw that device knew that it was designed to kill. If anybody had been near that device when it went off, they likely would have been killed or seriously injured," McKelvie said. "Anyone could have come into contact [with] that device either immediately before or as it was going off, and if so the consequences of this event would have been much more dire and much different."

McKelvie says Thomas Zajac was angry with Salt Lake City police, who arrested his son Adam for a DUI related to a medical issue two years before.

Thomas Zajac has also been tied to a similar incident in Illinois after his son was arrested on a minor traffic warrant there.

"His life went downhill from that point on. And because he couldn't blame himself for that he had to find somebody to blame, and the Salt Lake City Police Department was a likely target," McKelvie said.

But defense attorneys say an innocent man is on trial. Attorney Adam Wall told the jury Thomas Zajac was framed by his own son. He said Adam Zajac was embarrassed by his arrests and angry at his father.

Wall also said investigators focused on the elder Zajac, ignoring any evidence that may have pointed to the son.

Thomas Zajac's sister was in court to support him. She would not comment on camera, but said he is not vindictive. Still, she said she didn't know what to believe and just wanted the truth to come out.

The jury will come back on Monday morning and continue deliberating. If convicted, Zajac could spend the rest of his life in prison.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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Sandra Yi


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