Bomb suspect seeks change of venue, citing media coverage

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2016, file photo, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York in September, injuring more than 30 people, is led into court in Elizabeth, N.J. Rahimi has asked a judge to move his trial to Vermont. Lawyers for Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen Rahimi said in papers filed late Wednesday, April 5, 2017, that he would get a fairer trial in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

NEW YORK — A man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York seven months ago, injuring dozens of people, asked a judge on Wednesday to move his trial to Vermont to avoid the possibility potential jurors have been influenced by prejudicial publicity about the case.

Lawyers for Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen, said in court papers he would get a fairer trial in Burlington, Vermont. They said an expert analysis shows that media coverage of his case in Manhattan newspapers was twice as heavy as occurred in Washington, D.C., and five times as much as in Burlington publications.

Rahimi, who lived with his family in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged with detonating a pipe bomb along a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and planting two pressure cooker bombs in Manhattan on Sept. 17.

One device did not explode. The other one detonated in the Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 30 people.

Rahimi, who has pleaded not guilty, is detained without bail.

Defense lawyers say their analysis shows that about 90 percent of respondents to their survey were aware of Rahimi's case and that those who answered questions had a "comparatively strong presumption of guilt."

They said a high number of the respondents said they were in the Chelsea neighborhood at the time of the attacks or knew someone who was.

The lawyers wrote that prejudicial information that reached some respondents included reports of a confession, a near singular focus on Rahimi, inflammatory information and demonization of Rahimi as a terrorist.

They also cited numerous statements by the government and tweets by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara about Rahimi and other aspects of his prosecution.

Prosecutors declined to comment.

Rahimi was hospitalized for weeks for treatment of wounds suffered in a police shootout during his Sept. 19 capture outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey. In New Jersey, he is charged with attempted murder for the gunbattle with five officers.

His Manhattan federal trial is scheduled for October.

Lawyers in terrorism cases over the past few decades in Manhattan have frequently asked judges for a change of venue. None has been granted. Typically, the judges assume the potential jury pool has heard of the event and questions possible jurors individually to ensure they can still be fair.

Must Read

Prince Fielder emotional as he ends career after surgeries

Aug 11, 2016

Prince Fielder says it will be tough not be able to play again after having to walk away from the game because of health issues after two cervical fusions in his neck

Golovkin and Alvarez fight to a brutal draw; rematch to come

Sep 17, 2017

Canelo Alvarez led early, Gennady Golovkin took control in the middle rounds, and Alvarez did enough late to get a draw

Hamilton fastest in rain-hit practice for Japanese GP

Oct 6, 2017

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest lap in a rain-hit second practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix

People also read these

Prince Fielder emotional as he ends career after surgeries

Aug 11, 2016

Prince Fielder says it will be tough not be able to play again after having to walk away from the game because of health issues after two cervical fusions in his neck

Golovkin and Alvarez fight to a brutal draw; rematch to come

Sep 17, 2017

Canelo Alvarez led early, Gennady Golovkin took control in the middle rounds, and Alvarez did enough late to get a draw

Hamilton fastest in rain-hit practice for Japanese GP

Oct 6, 2017

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest lap in a rain-hit second practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix