Massachusetts Judge Refuses to Dismiss Hoax Device Possession Charge Against MIT Student

In Massachusetts on Friday, East Boston District Court Judge Paul Mahoney refused to drop the possession of a hoax device charge against Star Simpson, the 19-year-old MIT student who wore a strapped circuit board to her chest and walked into Logan International Airport last year.

Simpson’s trial begins on May 23, and she plans to take the stand. Simpson is expected to say that the week prior to her arrest, she wore the blinking circuit board around campus, which she considered a “piece of art” that she wanted to show off.

On September 21, 2007, she wore the battery-operated light display to the airport and was planning to pick up her boyfriend at Logan’s Terminal C. A number of employees fled the premise because they thought the device was a bomb. State police arrested her at gunpoint.

The Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit examined the device and determined that it was not an explosive.

Other MIT students have said that wearing this kind of device on campus is not uncommon. Called a “breadboard,” it is worn by students that are making something electronic.

Simpson has called herself a student, artist, and engineer.

Her criminal defense team says that the charge violates her freedom of speech and that she never planned on frightening anyone by wearing the blinking circuit.

The General Laws of Massachusetts
Chapter 266: CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY Section 102A1/2. Possession, transportation, use or placement of hoax devices; penalty; law enforcement or public safety officer exemption
Section 102A1/2. (a) Whoever possesses, transports, uses or places or causes another to knowingly or unknowingly possess, transport, use or place any hoax device or hoax substance with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Simpson’s criminal defense attorney had sought to have the charge against her dismissed because he said the statute is too vague. Her case has been continued a number of times.

Judge refuses to drop hoax charge against MIT student,, March 21, 2008
Simpson asks charge to be dropped, The Daily Free Press, November 6, 2007
Student Says She Was Wearing ‘Art,’ Not Bomb,, September 21, 2007

Related Web Resources:

The General Laws of Massachusetts


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