An engineer was acquitted Friday of taking part in a plot to mail a toy robot dog with a pipe bomb hidden inside that killed a college student, prosecutors said.
A jury found David Lin not guilty Friday in San Jose federal court of three felony charges connected to the 2001 killing. Meanwhile, Lin’s friend, who allegedly masterminded the bizarre murder plot to exact revenge on his estranged wife, is believed to have fled the country and remains at large.
Lin faced life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of using an explosive device to commit a felony, using an explosive device causing death, and conspiracy.
“It was a tough case, and we’re disappointed,” said Luke Macaulay, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors argued that Lin knew there was a bomb inside the package he mailed that killed Patrick Hsu, 18, a freshman at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hsu was visiting his family’s San Jose home at the time. His sister was the estranged wife of the plot’s alleged mastermind, Anthony Chang, a friend of Lin.
Hsu’s father initially opened the package but set the toy robot dog aside for his son when he discovered it wouldn’t work without batteries.
Some time later, Patrick Hsu put batteries into the machine, completing an electrical circuit that ignited the bomb, authorities said. His mother returned home and found the gruesome scene.
Prosecutors argued that Lin was a willing accomplice of Chang, who wanted to exact revenge on his wife’s family because she left him.
But public defender Daniel Blank said Lin was duped by Chang and was simply doing a favor for his friend when he mailed the package without knowing what was in it. A message seeking comment was left with Blank Friday.
Chang remains a fugitive and was once featured on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”