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Accused sailor's attorney speaks out after documents reveal possible sabotage in warship fire

Ryan Mays
Posted at 4:00 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 00:38:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The attorney for the Navy sailor who's accused of starting the fire that ravaged the USS Bonhomme Richard warship is speaking out after newly released court documents detail possible sabotage and tampering of evidence.

"It's my understanding that the government is going to provide us with discovery today," Ret. LtCol Gary Barthel told ABC 10News on Wednesday. He's representing Ryan Mays, the 20-year-old seaman from Kentucky who is now charged with aggravated arson and willfully hazarding a vessel.

An unsealed warrant details witnesses who placed Mays at the fire's origin before it started. The document indicates, in part, the possibility that someone tried to sabotage firefighting efforts. An investigator "opined that three of the four fire stations aboard the BHR appeared to be have been purposely tampered with and/or disconnected."

"The evidence that's alluded to in there, we have not had the opportunity to review and evaluate yet," said Barthel who added, "I just want everyone to know that Ryan Mays denies all the allegations made against him."

According to the documents, Mays was described as a SEAL drop-out who hates the U.S. Navy.

The documents also report that a former lover said that he lied about their relationship and described him as volatile and bipolar.

The explosive fire injured at least 70 people and took four days to knock down. The Navy said last week that there was enough evidence to hold a preliminary hearing for the accused sailor.

"He's still in San Diego, performing duties. He's got no restrictions on him at this particular point in time," added Barthel.