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LAX baggage handler pleads not guilty in dry ice explosions

By Michael Martinez and Traci Tamura, CNN
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 2244 GMT (0644 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Baggage handler Dicarlo Bennett remains jailed with bail set at $1 million
  • Bennett was directed to remove dry ice from a plane, his attorney says
  • Bennett had no intent to make a destructive device, attorney says
  • Prosecutors are gathering surveillance video from Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A 28-year-old baggage handler accused in two dry ice explosions at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of possession of a destructive device in a public place.

Dicarlo Bennett of Paramount, California, continues to be held on $1 million bail, but a bail review hearing will be held October 23. The court entered the not guilty pleas on the defendant's behalf.

Conviction on both charges carries a sentence of up to six years in county jail, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. A prosecutor told the court he is still obtaining surveillance video from the airport.

Defense attorney Ben Wasserman told reporters after the arraignment that Bennett was removing dry ice from a plane's holding area because he was told the vapors were dangerous to an animal being transported in the cargo hold.

"His intent in taking the dry ice from the hold was not the intent to make a destructive device," Wasserman said. "One of the other crew members said take the dry ice out or do something with the dry ice because the carbon dioxide is harmful to the animal, so he took the dry ice out.

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"I just don't think that he should be charged with this offense, but hopefully we will be able to prove that," Wasserman added.

On Sunday, dry ice in a plastic bottle exploded in an employee restroom, causing a brief shutdown of Terminal 2, the FBI said. No injuries were reported, and the terminal resumed operations after a brief evacuation.

The other incident occurred about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, airport police said. Three plastic bottles containing dry ice were found, but only one had exploded, police said.

Bennett is an employee of Servisair, a leading global provider of aviation ground services, the company said.

The explosions didn't cause any injuries.

Bennett allegedly thought the explosive devices were "a game" and "a funny kind of joke," and he had no intent to attack people, police said.

Dry ice, which is carbon dioxide in solid form, is used as a refrigerant for meats and ice cream, especially when shipped in a box. When dry ice becomes warm, it transforms into vapor.

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