Williamson County DA dismisses charges against man suspected of planting car bomb

Posted at 8:10 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 14:49:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Prosecutors have dropped charges against a man accused of planting a bomb at a Williamson County health care facility.

Mitchell Oakes was first found not guilty by a federal jury of planting a bomb in Franklin. Now the state charges against the one-time suspect in this high-profile case have been dropped.

This is a classic case of whodunit and Mitchell Oakes didn't. So, the question now is: Who did plant the explosive?

The incident made big news back in 2016. Police responded to a report of an explosive at a senior care facility in Williamson County. People had to be evacuated.

Later, Oakes was arrested and charged with planting a pipe bomb -- which did not detonate -- in his estranged wife's car.

"The opening statement of the government was the estranged wife was supposed to die that day ... and that our client almost got away with murder," said Oakes' attorney David Komisar before his client went to trial.

Oakes was tried in federal court, where 93% of all cases end with convictions. But his lawyers offered proof that someone other than their client planted the bomb.

“We believe he was framed," said Komisar.

After a three-week trial in 2018, the jury found Oakes not guilty. He walked out of jail after nearly two years behind bars. But that wasn't the end of it.

Prosecutors in Williamson County then decided to arrest him for attempted murder on the bomb case. A different charge with the same set of facts.

"He was crushed, broken-hearted and said ‘what else do I have to do,’" said Komisar.

But just this week, prosecutors made the decision to dismiss the charges against Oakes to comply with an order from the federal judge on the availability of evidence.

Now, for the first time since his arrest four years ago, Oakes is finally speaking out.

"I never planted any bomb," said Oakes.

NewsChannel 5 talked to him by phone in East Tennessee. Oakes says it's all an incredible relief.

"Words cannot explain it. It's like a whole load has been lifted off of me. It's so nice not to be able to not have to worry about the GPS device or worry about anything more permanent. It's over."

For Oakes it may be over, but this doesn't close the case.

As things stand, the question of who planted the potentially deadly pipe bomb remains unanswered.

Nick Beres will have more on this story throughout the day. His full report airs tonight on NewsChannel 5 at 6 p.m.