The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)
January 12, 1999
Author: Bill Morlin Staff writer
Taking Interferon and other prescription drugs “significantly impacted” a Colville bomb-builder involved in a daylong police standoff, a judge ruled Monday. But U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle also determined that the impact of the drugs on Robert Tayloe is exceeded by the danger he presents to the community.
The judge sentenced Tayloe to serve 41 months in prison on a firearms charge after Federal Defender Judy Clarke asked that he be released from jail immediately and placed on probation. The 47-year-old former welder was prescribed Interferon alfa-2b in September 1997 after he was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a terminal illness that attacks the liver. He also was given prescriptions for the anti-depressant Prozac and the anti-psychotic drugs Haldol and lithium.
“Truly, this is a case where this man wouldn’t be before the court if it wasn’t for the very dangerous drugs he was on,” Clarke argued.
To that, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice responded, “The Interferon did not make Bob Tayloe make pipe bombs.”
The prosecution presented evidence from Dr. Vernon Cressey, a psychiatrist, who evaluated Tayloe immediately after his arrest last April 1. “I’m sure he wasn’t encouraged by the medicine to build bombs,” Cressey testified. “That’s pretty far-fetched.”
The federal prosecutor said Tayloe knowingly violated federal firearms laws and should be sent to prison for 71 months, the maximum under sentencing guidelines. Van Sickle reduced the sentencing range to 41 to 51 months after ruling that the drugs significantly reduced Tayloe’s mental capacities.
“The use of Interferon along with the other drugs had a significant impact on the mental state of the defendant,” the judge said. Some of the fully activated pipe bombs found in Tayloe’s home in Colville were attached to propane tanks. His neighborhood was evacuated during the siege.
Authorities seized 18 pipe bombs, eight grenades, a MAC-90 and AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifles and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition. Clarke said Tayloe thought he legally possessed the weapons and ammunition for hunting.
“A MAC-90 with a fully-loaded 30-round clip is not a legal hunting weapon,” Rice told the court.
The April 1 standoff began when Tayloe and his wife had a disagreement and she called police, who set up roadblocks after shots were fired in their direction. No one was injured and Tayloe ultimately surrendered.
He was sentenced to serve a year in jail after being convicted in Stevens County of two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the standoff. He pleaded guilty last September to the federal firearms charge after his attorney abandoned plans to present an insanity defense.
On Monday, the federal defender presented testimony from a psychiatrist, a neuro-psychologist and a psycho-pharmacologist – all of whom said the prescription drugs triggered Tayloe’s bomb-building paranoia. Last year, Clarke was on the defense team for Theodore Kaczynski, a more celebrated bomb-builder from Montana.
She didn’t mention that case in describing Tayloe’s crime as one that was drug-induced.
“These drugs left him alone inside a twitching and anxious body,” Clarke told the court, quoting Dr. Ron Siegel of Los Angeles.
The psycho-pharmacologist said the combination of drugs made Tayloe “frightened and threatened his security.” “He was lost in the catastrophe of his own world falling apart,” Clarke said in reading Siegel’s assessment.
Craig Beaver, a neuro-psychologist in Boise, testified via telephone that Tayloe’s problems with paranoid, delusional thinking began when he started taking Interferon. Beaver, who screens patients for a liver transplant program, said there are other documented instances of the drug causing aggressive, paranoid behavior. Clarke asked Beaver why the drug combination would lead Tayloe to bomb-building. “It was what was available to him,” Beaver testified.
Tayloe brought the ammunition and gun powder with him to Colville from Tennessee, where he was told he couldn’t possess firearms or get a concealed weapons permit because of a felony fraud conviction.