Local News

Raleigh Man Found Guilty In Bombing

Posted February 14, 1996

— February 15, 1996 - 2:07 a.m. ESTBy STEPHEN W. DILL,Associated Press Writer

Writer Tracy Bullis stood near an entrance to the federal building smoking a cigarette, still wearing the glove that conceals her mangled hand.

Although she declined to speak to reporters, her relief was apparent in her smile - her husband had just been convicted of mailing her a package bomb.

A federal court jury deliberated less than two hours Wednesday before finding Stephan Bullis guilty on all six counts related to the maiming of his wife.

Tracy Bullis lost several fingers and a thumb on her left hand in a July 10 explosion at Business Telecom Inc., a long-distance telephone company based in Raleigh.

Stephan Bullis was convicted on three charges stemming from the July 10 blast and three more related to a second bomb discovered before it could be delivered to the BTI building.

Bullis, who worked for another long-distance phone company, MCI Telecommunications Inc., will be sentenced April 22. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison plus 150 years and a $1.5 million fine.

Public defender Michael Howell predicted outside court that his client would receive a sentence of life plus 40 years.

``Life means life in federal court,'' Howell added before walking off.

Jurors did not look in Bullis' direction when they filed back into the courtroom to deliver the verdict. Tracy Bullis smiled when she heard the verdict, then she and Judith Harrison, a co-worker who was slightly injured in the explosion, began to cry quietly.

Bullis remained motionless as the verdict was read.

During closing arguments earlier Wednesday, prosecutors said Bullis was a cold, calculating man who faked his tears when he testified.

The defense said prosecutors failed to prove that Bullis was the bomber, and that the evidence pointed to someone else.

Telephone calls made to Tracy Bullis before and after the bombing, the bright orange stamps used on the bomb packages and the possible planting of evidence at the Bullis home all led to reasonable doubt, Howell said.

``This all suggests that someone else was involved,'' he told jurors.

Bullis had cried when he testified in his own defense about seeing his wife for the first time after the explosion.

``Did any of you see any real tears or did you see an acting job?'' Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bennett asked the jury. ``I submit to you that no real tears came from that man's eyes.''

Bullis admitted on the stand that he was having an affair at the time of the bombing, but prosecutors made no attempt to link the affair to the bombing. Bennett mentioned the affair in opening arguments and again in closing arguments only to suggest that Bullis was a liar.

A fingerprint found on the second bomb was identified by an expert as belonging to Bullis. Another expert testified that he believed the bombs were assembled in Bullis' home.

Defense contentions of a frame-up were never seriously addressed, and were described by Bennett as ``ludicrous.''

``That theory came in with a bang and left with a whimper,'' Bennett said. ``We heard less and less of that as the trial went on.''

Howell contended that none of the prosecution's evidence, except the fingerprint, was conclusive, and that the fingerprint had been planted

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