Detriot Trial of Underwear Bomber to Begin

The trial of Umar Farouk Umadullatab, charged with a failed attempt to bring down an airline en route to Detroit on Christmas Day, begins tomorrow.

The Superseding Indictment is here. All of our coverage is assembled here.

Abdulmutallab is representing himself, with the assistance of standby counsel Anthony Chambers. I wonder how he'll do at cross-examining witnesses. "F. Lee Underpants" for the defense?

Will a conviction on all counts and a life sentence cause Republicans to admit that terror suspects can be successfully prosecuted in federal court? Don't hold your breath. [More...]

And how much will the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki influence the jurors? The media keeps publishing that al-Awlaki was a part of the failed bombing. This comes from law enforcement leaks of his post-arrest statements. But, that's not what he said. He never said al-Awlaki knew about his Christmas Day attack, just that he was his "teacher" and they had met and communicated, something al-Awlaki also acknowledged.

"Brother Mujahid Umar Farouk — may God relieve him — is one of my students, yes," Mr al-Awlaki said in the interview, which al-Jazeera reported on its website on Tuesday. "We had kept in contact but I didn't issue a fatwa to Umar Farouk for this operation."

More on the out of school talking by law enforcment here and here.

The judge has denied Abdulmuttalab's Motion to Suppress Statements (order here.) The jury questionnaire is here.

The judge has granted the Government's motion to preclude expert testimony on mental condition and to preclude a duress defense. She also granted its motion to admit demonstrative evidence regarding Defendant’s explosive device.

As to evidence about al-Qaeda and terrorists, the Government will be allowed to call an al-Qaeda expert and a martyrdom expert. It can introduce the cover of the Summer, 2010 Inspire Magazine and an article about encryption software, but no other parts.

The government’s motion is GRANTED as to Al-Qaeda expert, martyrdom expert, video segments (1) and (2), redacted cover page of Summer 2010 Inspire magazine and multi-page article about encryption software in Summer 2010 Inspire magazine. The government’s motion is DENIED as to video segment (3) and all other proffered Inspire magazine materials.

The excluded video portrays:

the explosives expert detonating 200 grams of PETN, which is the amount of PETN that the explosives expert believes was in the bomb before it was detonated.

Standby defense counsel had argued:

Here, the government wants to introduce video recordings of demonstrations that were performed in a laboratory and in an open field. Defendant ABDULMUTALLAB allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb on an aircraft. Accordingly,the demonstrationw were not conducted under conditions "substantially similar" to those of the alleged event.

In addition, showing the jury demonstrations of an expert detonating V6 and 200 grams of PETN is unfairly prejudicial, unreliable, and irrelevant. The government has no knowledge of the amount of PETN that Defendant ABDULMUTALLAB had in his bomb. Accordingly, it cannot argue that Defendant ABDULMUTALLAB's bomb would have had the same explosive force as is depicted in the video recordings.

The videos that will come in:

An explosives expert combining potassium permanganate and ethylene glycol in a syringe to show that the combination of these two chemicals produces smoke and fire; and the explosives expert detonating 76 grams of PETN which is the amount of PETN recovered from the aircraft.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Pro se defense (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:44:15 PM EST
    almost always a travesty of justice, but sometimes good political theater, if that's the defendant's objective

    Abdulmutallab: (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:54:17 AM EST
    "The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. -- the cancer U.S."

    Abdulmutallab, who complained loudly at a previous hearing about having to wear prison clothes, came into the courtroom Tuesday wearing an oversized prison T-shirt. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds called a brief recess to allow him to change into clothes more appropriate for court, after acknowledging and denying his apparent request to wear a "Yemeni belt with a dagger."

    - CBS News

    A strong argument... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 11:19:38 AM EST
    for trying alleged terrorists instead of vaporizing them without trial or due process...the entertainment value alone.

    Can't the judge let him wear his Yemeni get-up with a plastic prop dagger or something?

    Gallows humor, needed in this sick world.


    No (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:48:38 PM EST
    Because then people would (rightly) be screaming about how he didn't get a fair trial.  That's why (at least everywhere I know of) defendants do not wear prison clothes or are shackled during a jury trial, but sit at the defendant's table in street clothes.

    Yemeni garb with a dagger... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:41:18 PM EST
    is street clothes for this clown, now you're being culturally biased:)

    How about just a clown suit? :) (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:17:38 PM EST
    "The Brief Case" may (none / 0) (#4)
    by KeysDan on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:23:06 PM EST
    be intended, by Abdulmutallab, to demonstrate martyrdom but Judge Edmunds seems determined to preside over a decorous trial. The drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki may complicate juror selection but should not be a big problem.  The Judge's denial of the prosecutor's request to show a video of Osama bin Laden praising the defendant keeps the focus in tact.

    The physical evidence and passenger testimony will, of course, be critical.  However, a key determination of the judge was the denial of the motion to suppress the statements given by Abdulmutallab at the University of Michigan Hospital.  To me, the voluntariness is complex, given his third degree burns and the administration of Fentanyl for relief of pain.  It could be expected that the defendant would be high and euphoric during questioning.  The argument for not giving Miranda rights does seem compelling on the basis of the public safety exception, but the condition of the patient brings worry for the decision.