A judge has denied accused Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi’s request for his trial to be moved outside of New York.
Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Berman said in court on Monday he rejected defense lawyers’ push to change the trial venue after they voiced concerns about a prejudiced jury pool.
Lawyers for Rahimi — who is accused of placing two pressure-cooker bombs in Chelsea on Sept. 17 and injuring more than 30 people — have pushed for the trial to be moved outside New York. They previously recommended Vermont or Washington, D.C.
Rahimi, 29, also stands accused of setting off a pipe bomb at a Seaside Park, N.J. charity race. His lawyers maintain he can’t get a fair trial in the city due to extensive media coverage.
Prosecutors insist Rahimi can get a fair trial in New York — citing a “long history” of fair terrorism trials prosecuted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.
They also told Berman that media coverage of the case has “flatlined” since the fall, further enabling fair jury selection.
Berman ultimately sided with prosecutors.
“The court has little or no doubt that a fair and impartial jury can be impaneled in this case, and that the defendant Rahimi will receive a fair trial,” Berman ruled from the bench.
Berman said he didn’t feel publicity about the case before the trial required a change in location.
In explaining his decision, Berman also cited prior high-profile terror and mob trials with local victims that were tried in Manhattan Federal Court.
The judge brought up trials of men involved in the 1993 World Center bombing as an example, pointing out that Mohammed Salameh was tried “only blocks away” from the attack that killed six.
The judge also noted that Rahimi’s trial is expected to begin in October — “over a year” after the alleged crime was committed, he said.