Test set for re-enactor accused of abandoned pipe bomb

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WINCHESTER, Va. (TBEN) – A federal trial for a former Civil War reenactor accused of planting a pipe bomb on a battlefield in Virginia and threatening to disrupt other events is set for next year.

Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, was on the roll for a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia from Dec. 16. Last week, however, a judge ordered that the proceedings be moved to July to give defense lawyers more information. time to prepare, The Winchester Star reported.

A federal indictment released last month accused Drake of planting a pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield, about 80 miles west of Washington, during an annual reenactment in October 2017. The pipe bomb failed to explode and was made safe by police. . But it resulted in the cancellation of the reenactment after its discovery.

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The indictment also accuses Drake of writing letters threatening violence at subsequent Cedar Creek reenactments and at an annual memorial parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Drake has pleaded innocent.

According to Judge Elizabeth Dillon’s order, his trial is now scheduled for July 10 to August 4, 2023.

Drake is being held without bond at the Central Virginia Regional Prison, the newspaper reported. His attorney, Donald Pender of Charlottesville, filed a motion last week requesting that Drake be released until his trial.

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The motion says that since an earlier hearing on detention, all firearms have been removed from his home. It also says that Drake has dietary restrictions due to allergies, acid reflux and ulcers, and the prison has stopped accommodating those restrictions.

“He can only eat bread, water and some fruit at the moment. In addition, his dentures were recently broken and the prison has not been able to fix them, further limiting what he can eat,” the filing said.

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Christopher Kavanaugh, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, has said that in his threatening letters, Drake falsely claimed to have connections with antifa — short for “anti-fascists” and an umbrella term for far-left militant groups — to identify his real identity. and create additional political fear.

In reality, according to the indictment, Drake was a Civil War reenactor who regularly attended events at Cedar Creek until he was expelled from his unit in 2014. The charges do not say that his eviction was the cause of his alleged misconduct.