By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
This surrealism was eased with the introduction into the courtroom of taped conversations between Frazier and various defendants, primarily Mark Davis.
The witness's credibility took a back seat to the documentary nature of the recorded dialogue.
In the very first tape played, from a Davis-Frazier conversation on February 5, 1988, the problem in this case surfaced.
Mark Davis immediately volunteered that he was involved in the first attack on the Snow Bowl and that he'd like to hit the ski resort again.
With his confession to Frazier, Davis confirmed his role in the malicious mischief, though, at that point, that is about all that he was guilty of. The question of how that act of vandalism became a federal case, literally and figuratively, was also suggested in this first tape.
Davis told Frazier, "The next project is going to involve thermite."
Davis also made it plain that he was virtually ignorant about what thermite is or how to get it. After saying that thermite was aluminum powder and iron oxide, he added, "And I don't, that's all I know. But I don't know how to put it together. But the thing, the next thing that's going to be done is going to involve, um, setting thermite packages around the legs of something."
Frazier quickly volunteered to see where thermite was sold, comb through various catalogues and check prices through 800 numbers.
Davis leapt at the bait at the same time that he reiterated his unfamiliarity with thermite. For Davis, the metal melting explosive was a pipe dream.
"If you can do that [locate and price thermite], that would be very useful. 'Cause I am not, don't have the technical expertise to even fake the questions correctly."
For well over a year, Davis and Frazier discussed the thermite. Always Davis was curious but ignorant. Always Frazier acted as technical expert furthering the fantasies of thermite but never quite delivering the product. After hundreds of hours devoted to the discussion of thermite, Davis and Frazier resembled a wildly spinning couple upon the dance floor--often, you can no longer tell who was leading whom.
Was Mark Davis a terrorist, as the government charges, or was he coaxed down the path that led to this federal courthouse?
In her opening statement, prosecutor Roslyn Moore-Silver anticipated defense arguments and denied that there was ever an overall plan to get Earth First! at all costs. She made a point of informing the jury that FBI agent Michael Fain was only sent in to infiltrate the environmentalists when it appeared, months into the investigation, that Ron Frazier was no longer trusted.
Five weeks into the trial, however, the prosecution's position on this fundamental question of entrapment was eroded by witness Frazier.
In response to an innocuous question by Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon regarding the tapes, Frazier went off on a tangent and said that he was instructed at his very first meeting with the government to look for an opening where he might be able to introduce an undercover FBI agent into Earth First!.
As the tapes unwound in the courtroom, there were moments when the conversations were both naive and alarming.
Davis wanted to get his hands on dynamite and Frazier allowed as how he knows where to get it. Davis, of course, had no money for dynamite.
"I'd rather steal it," Davis told Frazier. "But not from anybody, not from a human. I'd rather steal it from a corporation . . . If I steal, I want to steal from a crook. A corporation. I'm real rigid about that . . . If worse comes to worst, we could just steal it and send him the money [for the dynamite]."
In the same March 23, 1988, conversation, Davis explained why he needed dynamite.
"I'm gonna blow the Canyon Mine and knock over the head frame," he told Frazier.
Complications were also considered:
Davis: "I want to see it go down."
Frazier: "You want to see it?"
Davis: "I want to see it go down, because I want to make sure nobody walks out of that trailer. If somebody walks out of that trailer, I'm going to yell at them."
Davis: "And tell them to get back inside, there's about to be an explosion."
Davis: "'Cause I don't want anyone to get hurt."
Davis also shared with Frazier pointers on how to keep from getting caught, specifically keeping his home free of incriminating evidence.
"What I do is I clean my house out of everything after I do a strike, before I do a strike. No dope. You know, no Earth First! journals. Nothing. You don't have to do that if you don't want to. Just telling you what I do . . . And then I don't talk about it on the phone or nothing for a couple of months."
Later, in the same conversation, Davis offered his considered opinion on his adversaries.
"Unless we fuck up, and I haven't ever fucked up, or leave some clue that would point to Prescott, they literally have the entire western United States to look at for who did it," said Davis. "Usually cops aren't really very smart. The only way they ever catch anybody, generally speaking, is if someone talks."