Livingston teacher pleads not guilty in nitroglycerin, chloroform case

FRESNO, Calif.

Officers arrested Japhia Huhndorf twice last week. She's accused of having explosive nitroglycerin in her classroom, and helping students get high on chloroform.

The investigating officers say Huhndorf dismissed the dangers of chloroform and nitroglycerin, and even admitted to hitting nitroglycerin with a hammer to make it explode, while a student observed.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom as Japhia Huhndorf appeared over a video screen from jail. The teacher's attorney entered not guilty pleas on all six of the counts against her. He claims she never intended to hurt anyone by having nitroglycerin in her classroom.

Ernest Tuttle said, "This was part of a scientific experiment as a chemistry teacher for advanced placement chemistry students, and that's it."

Court records viewed by Action News show Huhndorf told Livingston Police she made the nitroglycerin on a Sunday while a student was present. The officer wrote quote, "She told me after the substance was completed, she attempted to detonate several drops by striking the drops with a hammer. But only one drop actually detonated."

The bomb squad later found a vial of the explosive compound in the teacher's classroom at Livingston High School and blew it up after evacuating the campus.

Huhndorf is also accused of helping three male students get high on chloroform multiple times. Court documents show one of the victims told police he had been depressed and the teacher told him the chemical was an anti-depressant. That same student also said he lost consciousness from inhaling it, and that Huhndorf drove him home after he sobered up. But one Livingston Police Officer felt the teacher dismissed the danger. He stated, quote, "I told her one of her students passed out after using it, and she told me, 'true, but I still think it's harmless.'" Prosecutors disagree.

Walter Wall said, "We take the matter very seriously. Whenever children are in the care and custody of teachers we look at those cases very very seriously."

Huhndorf's attorney asked to have her bail lowered from a half million dollars to $50 thousand, but the judge said no. He then asked to have her released on an ankle monitor, but the judge also denied that request.

The teacher is set to be back in court on June 22nd.

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