A Placer County man was released from prison Thursday afternoon after a federal judge overturned his conviction on eco-terrorism charges following the discovery of new evidence.
Eric McDavid, of Foresthill, walked out of the federal courthouse in Sacramento and into the arms of friends, family members and attorneys.
“It was wonderful,” said his mother, Eileen McDavid.
When asked if she felt her son had been vindicated, Eileen McDavid said, “I don’t want to talk about that. I just know that he’s home.”
Eric McDavid, 37, was arrested in 2006 and convicted the following year.
Prosecutors said he planned to blow up various government targets, including the U.S. Forest Service’s genetics laboratory in Placerville and the Nimbus Dam on the American River.
“It came out in the last couple of months that they didn’t give us some very important documents for discovery, for evidence during the trial phase of the case,” said Jenny Esquivel, McDavid’s girlfriend.
Those documents, including several emails, back up the defense’s argument at trial that McDavid was entrapped by an FBI informant, known as Anna, with whom he fell in love.
“He was entrapped by love,” attorney Ben Rosenfeld said. “And he was entrapped by the persistent and unrelenting efforts of the FBI.”
McDavid’s trial attorney, Mark Reichel, said he had asked for those documents and been told by prosecutors that they did not exist.
The documents only surfaced after McDavid’s family members obtained his FBI case file through a government-records request.
“He went to federal prison for nine years,” Reichel said. “And somebody in the federal law enforcement system knew that he was innocent but didn’t care.”
U.S. District Judge Morrison England did not completely exonerate McDavid, but rather allowed him to plead guilty to another charge for which he received a sentence of time served.
As part of a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, McDavid agreed not to file a lawsuit against the federal government.
McDavid declined to comment as he left the courthouse.
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