- Associated Press - Monday, August 9, 2010

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas doctor accused of seeking revenge on a state medical board that repeatedly disciplined him was found guilty Monday of masterminding a homemade bomb attack that disfigured and partially blinded the board’s chairman.

A federal jury deliberated for a little over two days before convicting Dr. Randeep Mann, 52, of using a weapon of mass destruction and destroying a vehicle with an explosive in the February 2009 attack that nearly killed Dr. Trent Pierce. Mann, a federal firearms dealer, also was convicted of illegally possessing 98 grenades and a machine gun. He was acquitted of illegally possessing a shotgun.

He faces up to life in prison for the weapon of mass destruction charge when he is sentenced on a later date.

Before the verdict was read, Mann smiled at his children and other family members who were watching from the courtroom gallery. He and his wife, Sangeeta “Sue” Mann, who was also on trial, spoke quietly to each other before hearing the jury’s decision, as they had throughout the five-week-long trial.

One of the Manns’ sons began loudly crying when the first guilty verdict against his father was read. Other family members began crying as the drumbeat of guilty verdicts continued.

As jurors were filing out of the courtroom, Mrs. Mann collapsed into her chair, but she remained conscious. Her husband gently rubbed the back of her head with his hand.

The Mann family declined to comment after the verdict, as did Dr. Pierce’s wife, Melissa, and their lawyer, Betsy Murray. Dr. Pierce was not in court Monday because he was seeing patients in his West Memphis medical clinic, and his attorney said he would not comment on the verdict.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller allowed Sue Mann to remain free on bond pending her sentencing. Her husband was ordered to remain behind bars.

Prosecutors acknowledged having no forensic evidence connecting Randeep Mann to the bomb scene or proving he planted the explosive — made from a hand grenade duct-taped to a spare tire — in Dr. Pierce’s driveway in West Memphis.

Defense attorneys argued that investigators targeted the wrong person because of the family physician’s race and his love of weapons collecting.

Defense attorney Blake Hendrix said he planned to appeal the verdict.

“We have an abiding conviction that the evidence in this case is legally insufficient to support this jury’s verdict,” Mr. Hendrix said.

Still, prosecutors argued, there were links, including an e-mail Mann sent to his brother in India with the subject line “Pierce” and a photograph of the doctor with the text, “I hope this picture is good.” The bomb itself was made from a spare tire from a 2002 Nissan Altima, and prosecutors said a friend and business partner of Mann’s had an Altima from which the spare was missing when federal agents executed a search warrant.

A friend of Mann’s also testified that the doctor repeatedly said members of the Arkansas State Medical Board needed to suffer like he suffered.

“You don’t have to have forensic evidence every time you try a case, and I think the jury understood that,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Whatley said.

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