Passenger Pleads Innocent To Weapons Charge

By JOHN McCARTHY, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A passenger who told a radio talk show audience that he had made it through airport security with a 5-inch knife pleaded innocent on Monday to a federal weapons charge.

Robert Hedrick, 37, of Delaware, is charged with traveling on an aircraft with a concealed dangerous weapon, a felony punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison. U.S. Magistrate Mark Abel scheduled an April 15 trial before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley.

Other than entering his plea, Hedrick (pictured covering his face with a folder, above) said nothing during his five-minute arraignment. He declined to comment outside the courtroom. He remained free on a $20,000 bond.

Max Kravitz, a lawyer representing Hedrick, said his client made an honest mistake when he forgot he was carrying the knife.

"We're going to trial," Kravitz said.

Hedrick was arrested on Jan. 25 at Port Columbus International Airport.

He said he had cleared the security checkpoint in Greensboro, N.C., earlier with a belt buckle that was actually a sheath holding the knife with a 3-inch blade, authorities said.

After arriving in Pittsburgh on the US Airways Express flight, Hedrick called radio station WTVN talk show host John Corby and told him he was surprised he got through the checkpoint. He told authorities after his arrest that he didn't realize he had the knife until he had gone to the bathroom later.

Shortly after the call was broadcast, listeners began to call airport police, Columbus police and the FBI, according to an FBI statement. Hedrick was arrested when he arrived in Columbus. Kravitz said Hedrick was singled out and that the felony charge is too severe.

"It's my understanding people make mistakes all the time," Kravitz said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)