Kansas survivalist faces trial over grenades

As a survivalist who feared the world economy was on the verge of collapse, Alfred Dutton filled the hallways of his Eureka apartment with a stockpile of medical supplies, nonperishable foods, clothing, heating packs and other items – all neatly packed in plastic bins.

Now, the 67-year-old veteran of both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines is charged with possession of unregistered destructive devices after authorities discovered eight hand grenades found during a 2011 search prompted by a tip from his ex-wife’s boyfriend.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten will hear arguments before jury selection begins Tuesday about how much of the evidence found in Dutton’s apartment the jury will be allowed to see.

Dutton was initially charged with two counts – one for the grenades found in his apartment and another for five jars of homemade napalm with fuses attached found in a storage unit. He pleaded guilty to one count related to the napalm in a deal where prosecutors withdrew the grenades count.

The defense appealed, arguing the evidence found in the storage shed should have been suppressed for lack of probable cause. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed earlier this year, overturning the conviction and returning the case for more proceedings. The appeals court said authorities lacked reason to suspect criminal activity at the storage unit.

Dutton then withdrew his guilty plea, and prosecutors filed a new indictment charging him with the single charge related to the grenades in the apartment.

Investigators found anti-government materials on Dutton’s computer, as well as a “manifesto” and article on how to manufacture an ammonium nitrate bomb, according to prosecutors. Numerous containers of ammonium nitrate were found in his apartment, as well as along with fireworks, ammunition, gunpowder and firearms.

Defense attorney John Henderson contends that the government is unfairly trying to portray Dutton as a “mad bomber.” He described his client in court filings as a veteran who collected military items and was in the process of preparing to make and sell collectible World War II vintage hand grenades on eBay. Henderson also argued Dutton never read the 1,500-page document he had downloaded to his computer.

Henderson declined to comment Monday, and it is unclear what defense Dutton will mount at trial.

In a 2011 filing, Henderson said he’d notified the government that he was preparing a possible insanity defense, noting that a psychologist at the time was evaluating Dutton.