SANTA ANA (CNS) - The ex-boyfriend of a woman killed in an Aliso Viejo building explosion last week was denied bail today.Stephen Beal, 59, was ordered to return to court May 31 for a preliminary hearing on a charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device.
A post-indictment arraignment hearing was set for June 4.Beal was arrested last Wednesday after federal agents searched his Long Beach home, where they said they found a pair of pipe bombs and three firearms, none of which were registered.Beal was charged Thursday with a single count of possessing an unregistered destructive device. He was not charged in connection with the Tuesday afternoon explosion that killed 48-year-old spa owner Ildiko Krajnyak.
Beal's attorney, Amy Karlin of the federal Public Defender's Office, argued for electronic monitoring and $100,000 bail, saying he could put up his home as collateral. Karlin also argued that materials that could be used to make explosives have been removed from the home, so he would not be a public safety threat. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Takla argued that it was Beal's ``knowledge'' of bomb making that made him a real threat, not the access to chemicals used for explosives.
Karlin countered that electronic monitoring could reassure authorities that her client was not going to vendors that could supply material for explosives. U.S. District Judge Karen Scott asked about Beal's ``history of disability claims of mental impairment'' due to ``lead poisoning'' and ``how that would affect'' his ability to comply with the terms of his release.
Scott noted a report that Beal's lead poisoning could ``impair his executive functions, whatever that means.''
One contributing factor to the March 2008 death of Beal's then-wife, Christine, was lead poisoning, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. Karlin stressed that her client's bail should be based on the charges he faces, ``not what's been in the media.''
Takla argued Beal ``lacked candor'' while speaking to investigators. The prosecutor alleged that Beal claimed to investigators he was present when his wife was seriously injured and fell downstairs while they were moving furniture a few weeks before her death, but then denied saying that to ``pretrial services'' officials who prepared a report for the judge on the bail request.
Beal was also less than forthcoming about his knowledge of the bomb-making materials found in his home, according to Takla. The only thing he lacked was a detonator, which was something he had the knowledge to make, the prosecutor alleged.
The prosecutor argued that it didn't make sense that Beal had 130 pounds of materials for explosives in his home, which could easily had been sparked by exposure to heat, when he claimed he gave up his rocket-making hobby in 2004. And Takla contended that Beal having so much explosive material in his garage showed a ``callous disregard'' for his neighbors' safety.``The danger is not possessing them, the danger is he knows how to make them,'' he said.
Takla also questioned Beal's ``disability claims'' from his ``psychosomatic symptoms and hallucinations in 2004.''Karlin said Beal has been receiving ``monthly treatments'' for ``health concerns.''The judge concluded that Beal represented a flight risk and a potential danger to the community. She noted his ``foreign travel experience,'' and that he had ``lacked candor'' in statements to investigators.
According to an FBI affidavit filed Thursday in connection with Beal's case in federal court in Santa Ana, the explosion that killed Krajnyak occurred about 1:10 p.m. Tuesday when she used some type of tool to open a brown cardboard box inside the Magyar Kozmetika spa, which she operated on the first floor of the building at 11 Mareblu. Two other women, who were customers at the spa, were seriously injured.
Beal, in addition to being Krajnyak's ex-boyfriend, was also her business partner, telling federal authorities he leased the space for the day spa and paid the $1,500-a-month rent. According to the FBI affidavit, one of the women injured in the blast told investigators that while she was at the spa, she noticed ``lots of mail piled up along with three to four brown cardboard boxes on the floor next to the counter.'' The woman said she saw Krajnyak pick up one of the boxes, place it on the front counter and open it.
``As soon as Krajnyak opened the box, (the witness) stated that the box exploded and recalled being blown backwards by the explosion onto the floor,'' according to the document. ``She also saw flames and smoke.''The other woman in the spa at the time told investigators she was also knocked to the ground by the blast, and she described ``seeing everything on fire,'' according to the affidavit.
The affidavit, prepared by FBI special agent Evan Jesch, states that Beal and Krajnyak met in June 2016 through an online dating app and dated until February or March of this year, when they broke up over financial issues and ``disputes over the exclusivity of the relationship.''In addition to paying the business' rent, Beal also paid half the operating costs. He told investigators the lease was in his name because Krajnyak had filed for bankruptcy, according to the affidavit. The couple also co-own a cosmetics business called 888 Unlimited.
Jesch wrote that investigators found about 130 pounds of explosives or ``precursors'' in Beal's home, most of it in the garage and the rest in a pool house. Beal told agents he was a model rocket hobbyist, but hasn't actively pursued it for nearly 14 years and hadn't touched the equipment since. He said he used to also make fireworks, but stopped after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the affidavit.
During the search of his home, investigators found two cardboard tubes that had been rigged as explosives, but Beal claimed ``that he had not made any bombs or anything that catch on or cause a fire.''
He also told investigators that he had built another small device with a long fuse ``to assist with his neighbor's gopher problem,'' according to the affidavit.