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Science-themed YouTuber from Utah takes plea deal in explosives case

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who runs a science-themed YouTube channel with more than 9 million subscribers has agreed to make at least two videos about safety or legal risk as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Jonathan Grant Thompson, 37, agreed to a deal Monday that will clear his record of explosives charges if he makes the videos and remains on good behavior for 18 months.

On YouTube, Thompson calls himself "the King of Random." His videos of experiments and how-to science tips range from filling a balloon with liquid nitrogen to making a laser-assisted blowgun. They have been viewed more than 1.6 billion times.

In January, he was charged with two counts of felony possession of an explosive device after his South Jordan neighbors complained about loud noises. Those charges were downgraded to a misdemeanor as part of the plea deal filed Monday.

"We always believed that the initial felony charges were a mistake," Thompson's lawyer, Steve Burton, said Friday. "We felt like this agreement supported that belief."

Burton said Thompson has always tried to stay within the bounds of the law while conducting his experiments. Thompson has been making videos on YouTube since 2010.

As part of his plea deal, Thompson agreed not to make any videos at his home that would create "exceptionally loud noises" which may upset neighbors. The agreement demands that at least one of the new videos must mention being considerate to neighbors.

Burton said Thompson is glad to make the videos so that viewers don't fall into the same legal trouble that he did.

Thompson must also obey the law and obtain permission before any experiments that could cause a fire or explosion, according to the terms of the agreement.

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Julian Hattem


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