Bomb threat suspect seeks jury from outside Blair County
HOLLIDAYSBURG – The Claysburg man awaiting trial for bomb and water contamination threats made in October is asking for an out-of-county jury.
The threats were emailed – allegedly by 24-year-old Adam C. Hardin – to the Mirror and WTAJ-TV in Altoona from a computer in the Blair County Prison.
Hardin’s attorney, Blair County Assistant Public Defender Jason M. Imler, contends that “it will be impossible to select a fair and impartial jury in Blair County.”
Not only did the threats receive media attention but they resulted in a great deal of angst and disruption in the community, Imler said.
He claimed in a petition filed Friday in the Blair County Office of the Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts that the media coverage, the alarm and inconvenience caused by the threats prejudiced Hardin and tainted the jury pool.
He stated that Hardin’s name is now known throughout the community.
The petition was filed as part of the suspect’s pretrial motions.
Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan set a hearing for June 12.
Imler asked Sullivan to rule that a jury either be selected in another county and brought to Blair for the trial or that the entire trial be moved.
If the judge won’t agree to the selection of the jury from another county, Imler is suggesting that the judge allow the defense and prosecution attorneys to question each potential juror, a procedure that can extend the time it takes for jury selection.
Hardin, who was in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was placed in the Blair County Prison last year.
The prison had a computer that permitted inmates to do legal research and, supposedly, only legal research.
When it was installed, Warden Michael Johnston indicated that the computer could not be used as a way to communicate or do anything other than legal research.
While it was not known at the time, Hardin was an Army information technology specialist with 794 hours of training. Prosecutors allege he knew how to hack into cellphones and bypass any barrier built into the prison computer.
Threats were emailed to the news media in October indicating there was a bomb in the Blair County Courthouse, that toxins had been placed in the water system and that there were bombs planted throughout Hollidaysburg.
The threats led to a Wednesday evening evacuation of the neighborhood around the courthouse, to a recommendation that residents in the Hollidaysburg area not consume tap water for two days – which forced some borough restaurants and businesses to close temporarily – and to general fear throughout the community.
Hollidaysburg and Pennsylvania State Police with the help of a tip began to focus on the computer at the prison and on Hardin.
Hardin said he had little knowledge of computers, but police contend Hardin was not telling the truth.
Not only did he have extensive training, but investigators claim he has been involved with computers and hacking since he was a teen with his hacker name being TheGateKeeper.
Imler is asking the judge to appoint a forensic computer expert to help the defense understand the “quality, meaning and accuracy of the evidence.”