Men accused of bomb plot against Somali refugees ask for more Trump voters on their jury

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

Defence attorneys for men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment building filled with Somali refugees have requested more Trump voters in the jury pool.

Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen of Garden City, Kansas are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction for their alleged bomb plot, which they hoped would inspire others to attack Muslims, according to a complaint.

The men have pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for the three men recently filed a motion claiming the jury selection procedure was discriminatory because it “exclud[ed] rural and conservative jurors,” according to the Kansas City Star.

Authorities planned to pull jurors from the areas around Wichita, where the trail is taking place, rather than from western Kansas, where the alleged plotting occurred. Attorney Kari Schmidt, who represents Mr Wright, told the judge that there is a difference in belief systems between western Kansas and Wichita.

“I don’t think I can say it’s legally recognizable, but factually recognizable,” Ms Schmidt said.

In their motion, the defence argued that pulling from more rural areas would ensure the jury represented a “fair cross-section of the community” and give residents of those areas their “civil right to serve as jurors”.

They also claimed that jurors from the western region are more likely to be conservative – and to have voted for Donald Trump.

“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will centre around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 presidential election,” the attorneys wrote. The men planned to carry out their attack on 9 November – the day after the election – according to authorities.

Prosecutors, however, argued that the defence was seeking to pick jurors based on ideology, which they claimed could open “a dangerous door” for future cases.

They also cited prior cases finding that groups of prospective jurors defined by geographical location do not count as distinctive groups in these situations.

Judge Eric Melgren pointed out that most Kansans supported Mr Trump in the 2016 election, and questioned whether there was a difference between jurors in areas that voted two-thirds for Mr Trump, rather than three-quarters. Mr Melgren took the issue under consideration on Wednesday.

Investigators say the three men planned to detonate car bombs at an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City, specifically targeting Somalis and Muslims. They face up to life in prison if convicted.

The trial begins on 19 March.

Source: – Independent