A federal magistrate on Friday ordered the man charged with trying to blow up a natural gas pipeline in Plano last month held without bond after a dramatic hearing in which the accused bomber testified himself.
Wearing bandages on his hands, Anson Chi took the stand in federal court in Sherman and admitted some of his injuries came from "an accidental explosion," but also claimed some of his wounds came from "police interrogation and torture."
He also complained about his public image.
"I've been vilified and ostracized as a terrorist by the media," he said.
Chi was arrested after the FBI said he possessed a homemade bomb that detonated outside an Atmos Energy natural gas regulator station along West Parker Road in Plano on June 18.
He originally told police he was hit by a car, but investigators determined he was trying to tamper with the gas line, police said.
FBI agents and Plano police searched his house in the 3200 block of Anchor Road after they identified Chi from his fingerprints.
FBI special agent Brian Carroll, who investigates domestic terrorism, testified that when he interviewed Chi at Parkland Memorial Hospital, he claimed he was jogging and picked up a glass bottle he found on the ground, and it blew up.
Chi later admitted that story was a lie, Carroll said.
"He apologized several times," the agent testified.
Carroll described Chi as "anti-government, anti-technology, anti-big business, pro-environmentalist (and) slightly anarchist."
"He said he was tired of armchair activists and wanted to have this in the bank to prove he was a real activist," Carroll said.
Testifying for the defense, Chi's parents said they were OK with him living at home if the judge agreed to release him and would notify police immediately if he broke any rules.
But the testimony also seemed to backfire.
His father, Swia Chenn Chi, said he often fought with his son and was so afraid of him he once called the police.
"If we don't agree, he usually goes wild," the father testified. "I was so afraid he would take the gun and point it at me ... I wished the police would (have taken) his gun away, but they never did."
The FBI said agents recovered two pistols and three shotguns from the family's Plano house, in addition to bomb-making chemicals and hardware in a search hours after the explosion.
Chi's father said he was upset with his son because he hadn't worked for several years.
"He's such a grown-up man," Swia Chenn Chi said of his 33-year-old son. "He's not handicapped but he doesn't work so he makes me disappointed."
Anson Chi's mother, Fai, testified her son had no real friends and added she had no idea what the chemicals were inside their home.
"I didn't know what he was doing," Fai Chi said. "When I ask him questions, he says I'm nosy."
She said she thought the chemicals were ingredients for him to make soup.
"I always thought he was baking and cooking," she said.
Asked if she ever saw him eat anything he baked, she said, "Last year he did eat a loaf of bread."
She also said her son would sometimes compare himself to Jesus.
"He said, 'Jesus cannot save the world. I can save the world,'" she said.
Asked on cross-examination how she could control him if he gets angry, she said, "He loves me very much."
The parents testified with the help of a Chinese interpreter, even though Chi’s mother appeared to speak good English. In fact, she answered several questions in English before the translator even spoke. More than once, the translator repeated in English what she had just said in English, which drew a strange look from the judge.
At one point when he took the stand himself, Chi said he was concerned for his parents' safety if the judge allowed him to post a bond.
"Where would you live if not at home?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Stovall asked.
"I'd have to live at the county jail," he answered.
The judge, Amos Mazzant, appeared confused and sked Chi if he was still requesting to be released on bond.
"I am requesting a bond," he said. "But my solicitude is the safety and security of my family. I want their safety and security to come first."
He then added, "I will be honest, I'm not certain (about requesting a bond)."
Chi said the explosion severely damaged his hands, ears and eyes. He said he's 90 percent blind in his left eye and 40 to 50 percent blind in his right eye.
"I can see, but everything is blurry," he said.
His attorney, Robert Arrambide, described Chi as "an incredibly injured man" whose parents could supervise him if he were released.
But in announcing his ruling, Mazzant said, "There are so many problems here I'm not sure where the court should start."
He ordered Chi to remain in custody, and the suspect was led out of the courtroom by security officers.