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BOMB TRIAL— DAY 4 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 March 2018 15:44

By ELLY GRIMM

• Leader & Times

“No. 1 – ‘Cockroaches have to go.’ You will be hearing statements like this throughout this trial, but the defendants were not talking about insects. They were talking about people living in the apartment building on Mary Street in Garden City.”

This began opening statements from prosecuting attorney Risa Berkower in the trial against Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright, three area men accused of plotting to bomb a housing complex/mosque area home to more than 100 Somali Muslims in Garden City. 

“Their plan was to ‘blow the roof off’ and kill everyone inside, and there were multiple bombs to be set in that area so there would be the maximum amount of casualties,” Berkower said. “The defendants spent months taking action, they had a plan made. They learned how to make explosives and had even tentatively planned to meet with a bomb maker to help in case their own devices didn’t work.”

The defendants had allegedly been meeting for several months before their arrests in connection with the alleged plot, and Berkower said there was a reason behind those meetings. 

“The defendants sat around talking about their hate for Muslims, killing Muslims,” Berkower said. “With their plot, the best way to do that was to target the Mary Street building and another factor in their decision was the fact that one apartment was a makeshift mosque. The defendants looked up the service times online so they could make sure there were as many people as possible.”

But the Mary Street building was saved, Berkower said, because before the defendants were able to carry out the alleged plot, the defendants were arrested by law enforcement authorities thanks to help from local law enforcement and the help of informants. 

“The evidence will show the defendants were part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and during the Force’s meetings, they made their hate for Muslims known,” Berkower said. “There were efforts to recruit members of the KSF to their plot and while many of them didn’t like Muslims, they were not on board with the idea, but defendants Wright and Allen jumped right on board with defendant Stein. You will hear from Dan Day, a confidential source for the FBI in this case. Mr. Day was disgusted with the idea and wanted nothing to do with the defendants, but he also knew he couldn’t just stand by and do nothing so after meeting with an FBI agent based in Garden City, he was told to stay close to the defendants and be a source. He will tell you he was scared out of his mind and it was nothing like how it works on TV or in the movies with a SWAT team standing by – it was him and a recorder and you will hear from those many hours of conversations. Thanks to Mr. Day’s testimony, you won’t have to take my word about this plot.”

Berkower told the jurors the evidence will show the alleged plot evolved over time and she added the evidence would also prove the conversations were not just idle chatter but proof of a plot. 

“There were live explosives, plans to buy explosives from an FBI agent posing as a black market dealer,” Berkower said. “Among the evidence is thousands of pages of instruction on how to build bombs as well as several hours of watching YouTube videos on instruction on how to build explosives. Defendant Allen’s live-in girlfriend Lula Wright from that time will testify he watched those videos so often that she could eventually recite the steps herself.”

Berkower added there will also be a recording of the excitement shown about the success of one particular experiment involving the Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD) compound. 

“This experiment, during which only a tiny amount of that powder was used and then set off, was so forceful it burned off the hair on one of Mr. Allen’s fingers and Wright said he could feel the percussion from it,” Berkower said. “You will hear, in defendant Wright’s own words, that it ‘blew up pretty good.’”

Berkower then said the evidence shown in the case will include texts between the defendants and the undercover FBI agent and said one of those texts indicated the alleged plot was to take place Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election which saw Donald Trump elected president. 

“These were not just words, this was a prelude to action,” Berkower said. “And there will also be discussion of the FBI paying Mr. Day throughout the investigation, including money for a new car after his broke down so he could continue being a source as well as $15,000 after the investigation’s conclusion. But you will see he did not do this for the money but was scared of innocent men, women and children dying. Right from the start, he knew it was serious and he will tell you it only got worse as the plans began to take shape.”

Berkower then concluded her opening statements by recapping the events of Oct. 11, 2016, when the defendants were arrested and told the jury at the end of the trial, the evidence will be enough for the jurors to make a decision. 

“Evidence will also show the defendants also took steps to prevent being caught, and they had plans for if the FBI came knocking and had their answers planned out,” Berkower said. “They also described why they didn’t want to be caught and defendant Allen even wrote a manifesto. Think of this evidence with a backdrop. It will show all three defendants were in on the conspiracy.  These are not charges because of the defendants’ feelings on Muslims or because they were part of a militia group, which is perfectly legal. This is much bigger than that.”


 

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