The owner of Burns Power Washing was convicted In U.S. District Court Friday for a chemical attack on former customers, ending what his victims described as years of feeling terrorized.
When Myles and Karen Levine left the courthouse on Thursday afternoon, following closing arguments in the Todd Russell Fries trial, their heads were filled with "crazy thoughts," Myles Levine said.
"We knew you only had to have half a brain to figure out he was guilty," he said. But they knew of other high-profile cases in which the defendants seemed "obviously guilty" but were acquitted.
Not this time.
The jury, which heard three weeks of testimony, deliberated 10 minutes before convicting Fries of one count of using prohibited chemical weapons and one count of making materially false statements to law enforcement officers. He faces another trial in January on two counts of possessing explosive devices.
"I started crying," Myles Levine said. "My wife was crying and my mother-in-law was crying. We were glad and sad at the same time."
U.S. District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson will sentence Fries Dec. 14. Defense attorney Richard Bock declined to comment on the verdict.
Fries, 49, was arrested by the FBI on May 13, 2011, at his northwest-side house on suspicion of igniting chlorine tablets mixed with another chemical at the Levine home in August 2009.
The couple had a $200 dispute with the contractor.
Fries was also connected to three other acts of vandalism, in 2008, in June 2010 and April 2011, although he hasn't been charged for those incidents - the last two incidents at a different home in the Sabino Canyon area.
In October 2008, someone wrote anti-Semitic graffiti on the Levines' Marana home and left dead animals outside.
In the April 2011 incident at the Sabino Canyon home, a woman found large puddles of motor oil, feces and a dead lizard outside her home, according to a Pima County Sheriff's Department incident report.
The previous June, someone poured glue onto the woman's home, her cars and inside a car's gas tank, the report said.
Like the Levines, the woman was also unhappy with work Fries had done and told sheriff's deputies she thought he was involved in the incidents.
FBI agents found 37 firearms, explosives and a large sum of cash at Fries' home following his arrest.
The agents also said in court they discovered books on revenge and recipes for making explosives at his home.
Myles Levine and his wife sat through every day of the trial.
"It was pretty sad, and it was also scary," Myles Levine said. "We had to re-live everything that happened. It was a tough experience and a humbling experience. You watch these stupid shows on TV and it's really not like that."
He offered no opinion on what Fries' sentence should be.
"That's up to the court. It's not up to me," Myles Levine said. "We're just glad justice was served and he was found guilty."
On StarNet: Follow the news and events at Pima County's courthouses in Kim Smith's blog, At the Courthouse, at azstarnet.com/courthouse
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