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SUSPECTED SUBWAY BOMBER ASSERTS HE’S INNOCENT VICTIM

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Handcuffed to his hospital bed, fading in and out of consciousness from the morphine dulling the pain of his burns, the man charged with firebombing a subway train proclaimed his innocence Thursday, his newly hired lawyer, Stephen J. Murphy, said.

Edward J. Leary, the unemployed computer expert who police say created and carried the firebomb that injured 48 subway riders in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, said he was just another victim of the explosion, Murphy said."He vehemently denies his guilt," said Murphy, an outspoken lawyer whose clients have included defendants in the Howard Beach and Bensonhurst racial violence cases.

"He knows nothing more than anybody else does about it. And he's appalled by all these headlines and politicians and police calling him the mad bomber."

Many of those headlines have been based on evidence that police have said they removed from Leary's home in Scotch Plains, N.J., including scribbled notes in which investigators say he referred to himself as a "mad bomber." The notes laid out a plan to extort money from the Transit Authority by setting off similar firebombs across the city, the police said.

One investigator said a phrase from the notes that stuck in his mind, apparently intended to be used in an extortion message, was: "We have several more bombs, and if you pay a ransom, we will make this bomb safe."

Law enforcement officials have also said they found a trove of bomb-making supplies in Leary's den, including mayonnaise jars, wires, timers, batteries and containers of gasoline, along with instructions for building a firebomb.

But Leary told his lawyer that he never made or carried the firebomb and knew nothing about an extortion letter or the other material said to have been removed from his house, Murphy said. Murphy charged that some of what appeared to be incriminating evidence had been "made up" by police.