ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A lawyer for the man accused of setting off bombs last year in New Jersey and New York, injuring dozens, is seeking a change of venue for his trial on attempted murder charges stemming from a shootout with police.
Deputy Public Defender Peter Liguori said Ahmad Rahimi can't get a fair trial in Union County, citing the excessive media coverage he and the bombings have received.
"There can be no dispute that Mr. Rahimi and the charges against him have received the most significant and pervasive pre-trial publicity in a criminal case in the Northeast since the Boston Marathon bombing," Liguori says in a recent brief supporting his motion to have the trial moved to another location.
Liguori also argues that national newspapers and television broadcasts reported of Rahimi becoming "radicalized" and how his father contacted the FBI about his son years earlier, among other details.
The county prosecutor's office declined comment on the request. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for May.
Rahimi is charged with attempted murder for the Sept. 19 gunbattle with five officers before they captured him in Linden, New Jersey. Authorities allege the Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen, who lived with his family in Elizabeth, pulled a gun and fired on officers after a police officer in Linden found him asleep in a bar doorway.
Rahimi was shot and wounded in the exchange. The officer who first came upon Rahimi was shot but saved by his bulletproof vest, authorities said. Officials said another officer was grazed by a bullet.
At the time, Rahimi was being sought for allegedly planting two bombs in Manhattan — one of which detonated, injuring 30 people — and allegedly putting two bombs in New Jersey — near a charity run in Seaside Park and in a trash can in Elizabeth. No one was injured in the New Jersey blast.
Rahimi faces a federal trial in October on the bomb charges.