"Toy robot dog is star exhibit in S.J. murder trial"

Steve P., over at Core77, catches the above headline from a San Jose Mercury news story.

Testimony continued today in the trial of David Lin, who allegedly mailed a bomb [on behalf of Anthony Chang] in a toy robot dog that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Patrick Hsu in 2001...When Patrick came home for a weekend visit from the University of California-Santa Barbara, he placed batteries in the toy, detonating the bombing device.

Anthony's woman had left him for Patrick. Geek love, gone tragic.

Toy robot dog is star exhibit in S.J. murder trial [via Core77]

Toy robot dog is star exhibit in S.J. murder trial
By Howard Mintz
Mercury News

The metallic toy robot dog sits on the prosecution table, perched a few feet from the jury and not looking particularly lethal.

But inside a federal courtroom in San Jose, the toy has been an eerie, star exhibit — a replica of the murder weapon in a trial that began unfolding this week against a former Milpitas engineer charged in a revenge plot that killed a local college student six years ago.

Testimony continued today in the trial of David Lin, who allegedly mailed a bomb in a toy robot dog that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Patrick Hsu in 2001. Prosecutors allege that Lin, 39, mailed the device on behalf of Anthony Chang, who is accused of masterminding a plot against the family of Wendy Hsu, his estranged wife and Patrick's sister.

Now in its fourth day, testimony in Lin's trial has for the most part focused on Chang, a phantom in the courtroom who remains a fugitive suspected of living in Venezuela. Wendy Hsu testified earlier this week of her abusive, rocky relationship with Chang, who vowed retaliation against her and her family for leaving him.

Lin's lawyers maintain he never knew there was a bomb in the package he mailed for Chang, and the outcome of the trial may well hinge on prosecutors' ability to prove otherwise. Lin faces life in prison if convicted of murdering Patrick Hsu.

Today, the prosecution provided what may be its key testimony linking Lin to the bomb plot. Jenny Barrera, Chang's former girlfriend, testified in detail how she watched Chang assemble the lethal device in their Las Vegas apartment weeks before Patrick Hsu's death, taking apart the toy and inserting a pipe bomb inside.

Speaking softly through a Spanish interpreter, Barrera, who has been placed in a government witness protection program, testified that Chang told her he was sending the bomb to Wendy's San Jose home because ``she had ruined his life.''

Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Shoemaker, Barrera then described numerous conversations in which Chang told her that he mailed a box with the robot dog to Lin, who allegedly was responsible for sending it to the Hsu household. Police linked Lin to the package through a Milpitas post office.

``He said he'd asked David whether he could send the package to Wendy,'' Barrera testified, looking forlorn on the witness stand. ``That he had told him there was a bomb inside. That he should be careful when he held it, that he should wear gloves.''

Barrera admitted lying to police and federal agents at various times when questioned about Chang's role in the bombing early in the investigation. She then broke down and cried on the stand when she recounted changing her story and admitting her firsthand knowledge because she felt guilt when agents told her about the victim, Patrick Hsu.

Daniel Blank, a federal public defender representing Lin, plans to present testimony showing that Chang told conflicting stories about whether Lin was aware he was mailing a package containing a bomb. Blank will cross-examine Barrera when the trial resumes Monday.

During opening statements earlier this week, Blank told jurors Lin is a ``non-violent, peaceful person'' who was duped into mailing the package on Chang's behalf.

``David did not know Patrick and he did not know what was in the package,'' Blank told a packed courtroom that included Hsu's mother and father.

Chen Hsu, Patrick's father, received the package in January 2001, but left the robot dog for his son when he could not locate batteries to make it work. When Patrick came home for a weekend visit from the University of California-Santa Barbara, he placed batteries in the toy, detonating the bombing device implanted by Chang.

Chang also faces murder charges if he is returned to the U.S. Prosecutors could seek the death penalty against him.