Potential jurors removed from tree lighting bomb plot trial - KPTV - FOX 12

Potential jurors removed from tree lighting bomb plot trial

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Jury selection in the federal trial of bomb-plot suspect Mohamed Mohamud will continue Friday morning, after the court did not finish seating a jury Thursday.

Mohamud, 21, is accused of attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction at Portland's holiday tree-lighting ceremony on November 2010.

Judge Garr M. King spent all of Thursday whittling down the jury pool, excusing prospective jurors for a number of reasons.

One juror, a woman, was excused because she worked as a librarian in Mohamud's elementary school while he was in the sixth grade. She was also at the ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square the night Mohamud is accused of trying to activate a fake bomb.

The device was provided by undercover FBI agents.

His defense plans to argue Mohamud was entrapped by the FBI. The 21-year-old Mohamud is one of the youngest defendants arrested as part of the U.S. Justice Department's terror stings.

Mohamud's attorneys say his youth made him a vulnerable target.

Prosecutors argue that Mohamud was predisposed to committing terrorism before the operation began. They say Mohamud was offered the option of peaceful resistance, but chose a path of violence.

According to Tung Yin, a law professor at Lewis and Clark College, the entrapment defense "has never succeeded yet in a post-9/11 domestic terrorism case."

While the burden of proof is on prosecutors, Yin said the defense faces an intuitive challenge. He said the entrapment defense is most often effective when a defendant is accused of vice crimes involving drugs or prostitution.

"That doesn't mean it can't succeed. I think this is maybe one of the best shots a defendant would have in a terrorism case," said Yin. "But I think you have to overcome that initial road block that jurors may have, which is, ‘I can understand being bribed, I can understand being tempted into buying drugs, but killing a bunch of people?' Much harder I think."

Another juror was excused Thursday after divulging he was a friend of Tyrone Woods, the former Navy SEAL from Oregon City killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya in September 2012.

Another potential juror was removed from the selection process after revealing a relative survived the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but later took his own life from the trauma.

The other potential jurors excused included a woman who objected to what she called the unfairness about the power of the state over the defendant and others who said they have strong feelings about terrorism cases and couldn't put their emotions aside and be impartial in the trial.

Potential jurors were asked questions about their interactions with law enforcement, which is common in other criminal trials. Questions for jurors that were more specific to this case included whether or not they have ever lived, worked or studied in the Middle East or if they have been affected personally by terrorism.

Mohamud's parents and around one dozen family friends watched the proceedings Thursday, but declined to comment on the case.

The jury pool started with 86 people and was down to 70 by mid-afternoon.

The Portland division of the U.S. District court draws its jurors from multiple counties, including Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Jefferson, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill.

Jury selection will resume at 9 a.m. Friday. Due to the size of the jury pool, members of the public and the media can watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television from an overflow room in the U.S. District Courthouse.

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