Reporter - Danielle Lerner

Sep 18, 2012 3:08 PM by Danielle Lerner

Jury selection underway in Todd Fries trial nearly three years after toxic attack

Jury selection is now underway in the trial of Todd Fries. The case is in federal court just more than three years after a chemical attack on a home, terrified residents and forced several families to evacuate their Northwest side neighborhood.

As owner of Burns Power Washing, Todd Fries was a prominent businessman. He was arrested in May 2011, charged with producing and using chemical weapons to attack his former customer's home. That attack happened in August 2009. The couple living near Shannon and Magee awoke to find their house covered in Spanish language graffiti and a swastika painted on their garage. They called 911 because they could not get out of the house, someone had sealed the front and garage doors shut. There were also dead animals on the porch, an explosive device nearby and chemicals in the front yard.

The chemical turned out to be chlorine mixed with another substance. Together they created a cloud of toxic gas the size of a football field. Several families had to evacuate while the FBI, Bomb Squad and Pima County Sheriff's Department worked to get it under control.

The victims hired Fries to do some work on their home. The FBI did investigate the attack as a hate crime because the victims are Jewish.

Fries faces several felony charges of Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons. If convicted, that charge carries a penalty of prison time, a $250,000 fine, or both.

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