Canadians in fear after son convicted
`It's crazy down here,' mother says
Appeal of bomb threat verdict eyed
DOYLESTOWN, Pa.—The mother of a Canadian teenager convicted of bomb threat charges in the United States says she's furious, considering an appeal and worried about threats to her family.
Annette Biehn said yesterday she wants her 15-year-old daughter Tristan to leave the U.S. and stay with relatives in Toronto while son Travis faces pre-sentencing evaluations and the family considers how best to "clear his name" in juvenile court.
"I'm trying to get Tristan out of the country but she's a very stubborn girl. We're very headstrong, it's a Newfoundland trait. That's why Travis is not buckling."
The family has received threatening emails and Biehn said she's concerned about Internet blogs about the case, which ignited emotional debate in Canada and the U.S. after authorities painted the 17-year-old as an angry youth who hates Americans.
"They're horrific," she said of the Web comments. "One person even commented on the fact that he passes our street every day. That's really scary.
"They're talking about Canadians being thrown over Niagara Falls, being tarred and feathered and caned. I don't want (Tristan) going through this. It's crazy down here."
An appeal on the charges, uttering a terrorist threat and possessing incendiary devices, must be filed within 10 days, she said.
Judge Kenneth Biehn (no relation to the family) ruled Monday after a one-day trial that the teen wrote a message on a bathroom stall threatening to blow up his high school and gathered explosive materials with the intention of building a bomb.
The boy's father, Brant, who moved the family to the Philadelphia area in 1997, testified the materials were used to make harmless smoke bombs for fireworks displays and burn a tree stump in the backyard to make way for a fish pond.
"The stump has been burned and the pond is half-constructed but no one looked at that," Annette Biehn said yesterday.
"We have a load of people around here all the time, as Newfoundlanders do, and we do fireworks by the pool."
Prosecutors, while admitting no one saw the youth scrawl the bathroom message, presented boxes of materials found in a search of the Biehn house in suburban Buckingham and said no other conclusion was plausible than the boy's intent to make a bomb.
Police witnesses and bomb experts said the teenager had most of the elements for a bomb except a large quantity of something to ignite it, like the magnesium thermite he had bought months before. That's the material, said the defence, that was used on the tree stump.
The judge was arranging for psychological evaluations and background checks to find out "what makes Travis Biehn tick" and help determine his sentence.
He could remain in custody until his reaches the age of 21.
Defence lawyer Bill Goldman said yesterday his client could have been examined before the verdict if the judge felt he didn't know enough about him.
"We would have co-operated in any way possible with a screening and with the probation officer assigned to him."
Goldman accuses District Attorney Diane Gibbons of publicly trying the youth before his trial and stirring nationalistic sentiment, telling reporters he was anti-American and pointing to the "I am Canadian" T-shirt he wore to a court appearance.
"That's unfair," he said. "There were two trials. The first one was in the media."