Charges dropped against Florida teen over amateur science experiment

Kiera Wilmot, seen in a screengrab from msnbc's All In w/ Chris Hayes
Kiera Wilmot, seen in a screengrab from msnbc's All In w/ Chris Hayes

UPDATED: May 16, 11:49 a.m.

The Florida teenager who was arrested two weeks ago for causing a small explosion on the campus of her high school will not be charged with a crime. Kiera Wilmot, 16, was arrested by police in Bartow, Florida, after conducting an unauthorized science experiment which lightly damaged an eight ounce plastic water bottle.

At the time, Wilmot faced possible charges for “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property.” If she had been convicted, she could have faced up to five years in prison.

Wilmot’s arrest became a national story, as members of the press and the scientific community insisted that Wilmot was the victim of a massive overreaction from law enforcement. A crowdfunded legal defense fund netted over $8,000 to cover Wilmot’s potential legal fees, and a petition to get the charges dropped received nearly 200,000 signatures.

“Even though I don’t have the privilege of knowing Kiera, I believe we all have the responsibility to stand up with one another whenever there is injustice and felt I had to do whatever I could to make sure the unjust felony charges were dropped,” said Maggie Gilman, the creator of the petition, in a statement circulated by “I’m very thankful to the 195,000 people who stood with Kiera and signed the petition on!”

Wilmot has already served a ten-day suspension, and is now attending another high school, according to her attorney. Per the terms under which she avoided criminal charges, Wilmot will also have to complete a diversion program outlined by the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice. The terms of the diversion plan are not public, and it remains unclear whether Wilmot’s arrest will be expunged from her record.