This could be the most brazen request ever made in a courtroom! In the western Kansas town of Garden City, three men were arrested in October 2016, charged with plotting to bomb a mosque and an apartment complex because it housed Somali refugees. Terrorist behavior.
In an attempt to get the three men excused from all charges, the defense attorney is trying a new strategy. He has asked the judge to allow him to stack the jury pool with people from a more rural part of the state where people are “more likely to have voted for President Donald Trump.”
The men, Curtis Wayne Allen, 49; Patrick Eugene Stein, 47; and Gavin Wayne Wright, 49, are being charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Because their plot was foiled after an eight-month-long FBI investigation, they didn’t actually get to blow anything up or kill anyone.
Their plan was to explode truck bombs the day after the November 2016 election. The three were indicted in October 2016. All have pleaded not guilty (you’re not surprised, right?).
Approval of this request would set a dangerous precedent for future proceedings. That doesn’t stop U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren from being required to consider it though. He is expected to make an announcement on his ruling soon. The trial in Wichita begins March 19, just ten weeks away.
The government’s attorneys are arguing against the motion because “granting the request would as a matter of policy ‘wreak havoc,’ saying the defense is seeking to pick a jury pool based on ideology while ‘opening a dangerous door’ to similar requests in other cases.”
The entire state of Kansas voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The difference in the jury pool is whether the vote was two-thirds in Trump’s favor or three-fourths. The odds are still with the defense in having a majority Trump-favorable jury even if they lose the motion.
The defense is arguing that jurors will need to decide if the “alleged conduct constitutes a crime or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and the right to bear arms.” They contend that summoning jurors from the urban counties near the federal courthouse would be discriminatory and would exclude rural and more conservative jurors.
Only in ‘Murica… Sometimes you just gotta shake your head and wonder.
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