Man whose home where device was found appears in court

A Franklin man was held for court Wednesday on some charges while others were dismissed in a case in which a suspected bomb was found last month at the man’s apartment.

Tyler Howard, 22, appeared in Venango County Central Court for a preliminary hearing before district judge Matthew Kirtland.

Kirtland dropped felony charges of risking catastrophe and make repairs/sell/etc. offensive weapons after he said District Attorney Shawn White’s case held nothing to “indicate this was an explosive device.”

The device, which was removed from the apartment by an Erie state police bomb unit, hasn’t yet been inspected, Franklin police officer Sean Floor testified.

Howard was held for court on a felony count of criminal use of communication facility and misdemeanor charges of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, possession of marijuana and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

White withdrew a felony charge of weapons of mass destruction-unlawful possession or manufacture.

The charges could be refiled against Howard after the device, which was described by Floor as containing white powder and a long fuse sealed with glue, is inspected and found to be explosive.

The device was found Dec. 6 while officers were canvassing Howard’s apartment for a then-wanted man who has since been captured.

Floor testified Wednesday that after it was determined the wanted man wasn’t in the apartment, officers then turned their attention to visible drug paraphernalia and a distinct odor of marijuana.

When officers searched the apartment again, they found a metal briefcase-like box that contained “unused stamp size baggies and a mason jar that contained marijuana residue,” Floor said.

Two sandwich baggies filled with marijuana were found near Howard, and near the baggies was a glass bong and the suspected explosive device, Floor said.

Police also recovered a digital scale that Floor said is indicative of dealing drugs. Floor also said messages that indicate possible drug activity were sent to Howard’s phone while it was in the police department’s possession.

Devices similar to the one found in Howard’s apartment were discovered Dec. 10 inside a Crestview Drive apartment in Sugarcreek Borough.

With those devices, a baggie filled with metal objects described by Sugarcreek police as “shrapnel” was also recovered.

One of the devices exploded when an Erie bomb squad tried to render it inoperable.

The man who is suspected of manufacturing all three devices, Carl Michael Roberts, 26, of Franklin, was arrested last week in Connecticut and extradited back to Venango County earlier this week, Sugarcreek police said.

Howard hasn’t said who the device in his apartment belonged to, just that it wasn’t his.

“He said he was holding it for a friend,” Floor testified.

Howard remains lodged in the Venango County jail on $15,000 bail.