Sayoc's attorney questions evidence against accused serial bomber

Prosecutors say they found Aventura man's fingerprints, DNA on packages

MIAMI – In an exclusive interview with Local 10 News, one of Cesar Sayoc's defense attorneys questioned the government's case against the accused South Florida serial bomber, saying the evidence is circumstantial.

Jamie Benjamin is no stranger to Cesar Sayoc. His firm represented Sayoc on several retail theft charges in the past, the last one in 2014.

"He reached out and he was just relieved that we were there to be able to counsel him," Benjamin said. "During those times of representation, he didn't exhibit anything but a polite respectful person but who knows what's happened from then till now."

Benjamin was part of the legal team in court Monday defending the 56-year-old Aventura man accused of mailing 14 bomb-like devices to CNN and prominent Democrats across the country. A new package addressed to CNN headquarters in Atlanta was discovered Monday morning.

"This new bomb could mean there was a mailing that happened after he was in custody," Benjamin said. "I don't know either, but that's why we can't speculate."

However, federal officials have warned that additional devices still could be traveling through the mail system. On Monday, the FBI warned a number of additional politicians and other public figures they could become targets after agents said they found their names and addresses in Sayoc's possession.

Cesar Sayoc made his first court appearance Oct. 29 in Miami federal court after being arrested in connection with pipe bomb packages mailed to prominent Democratic figures.

A bodybuilder who worked as a male dancer for several years, Sayoc worked most recently as a pizza driver and an occasional bouncer and DJ at a West Palm Beach strip club. Court records show he had been arrested at least nine times on charges such as grand theft, battery, fraud and drug possession.

In one notable case, Sayoc pleaded guilty to threatening an employee of Florida Power and Light in 2002, saying he would cause an explosion if the company turned off his power service.

Benjamin maintains the evidence he's seen in the criminal complaint against Sayoc is thin even though investigators said they have fingerprints and DNA evidence linking Sayoc to the packages.

"Just because they say this print, which hasn't been certified, and these two maybe DNA (samples). That's all they have. No pictures of him. No movies. No going to the places where they were mailed," Benjamin said.

But what of the white Dodge van that Sayoc allegedly lived in, covered in pro-Trump stickers? And his social media pages spewing hateful messages and threatening violence?

"The First Amendment protects words even if they're hate words. To connect it to this, the government has a long row to hoe here," Benjamin said.

Federal prosecutors want no bail for Sayoc. They said he's a flight risk and a danger to the community. A bond hearing will be held Friday. 

Sayoc faces up to 48 years behind bars if he is convicted.

About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.