Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FAMU Bomb Trial Starts Today Suspect Charged with Hate Crime

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FAMU Bomb Trial Starts Today Suspect Charged with Hate Crime

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida A&M University student Remy Robinson isn't sure when it happened, but sometime in the 10 months since a pair of bombs went off at the historically black college, she was forced to grow up.

Robinson, 18, a sophomore from Tampa, said the Aug. 31 and Sept. 22 bombings made her realize the world can be filled with bias and hatred.

"There's been a loss of innocence, and I'm not as naive as I used to be," she said. "It brought it into your face, that 'Wow, I'm black and there's racists out there who are trying to blow me up.' "

The bombings damaged a pair of campus buildings but injured no one. The trial of the man accused of the crime is scheduled to begin today.

Lawrence M. Lombardi, 42, of Tallahassee faces a weeklong trial in Pensacola on four felony charges, including committing a hate crime. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

Police say Lombardi, a licensed embalmer who has been in federal detention since his arrest in October, gained access to the FAMU campus through a job as a snack machine vendor.

Police say he called a Tallahassee television station after each of the blasts, spewed racial hatred and promised more violence to follow.

Lombardi has pleaded innocent. Attorneys for the defense and prosecution have been barred by the trial judge from speaking about the case.

Court files reveal little about the strategies the two sides plan to use. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has sealed most of the proceedings and documents filed in the case, arguing that releasing the information would inhibit both sides from receiving a fair trial.

Police say they connected Lombardi to the bombings through tape recordings of the racist calls made to the TV station. Police say acquaintances of Lombardi listened to the tapes and said they recognized his voice on the tape.

Other evidence police say links Lombardi to the crime includes security camera footage from a hardware store that police say shows Lombardi buying a rare type of PVC pipe used to make the bombs. Police also say witnesses saw Lombardi make telephone calls from pay phones at the precise time the calls were made to the TV station. …

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