NEW YORK Lawyers for the man accused of injuring
30 people by detonating a bomb in New York City complained that
government investigators took a DNA sample from him without his
attorneys present and promised a fight to keep that evidence out
Defense attorneys also sought to delay the trial of Ahmad
Khan Rahimi, 29, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, saying a U.S.
judge and prosecutors were pushing for too prompt a start for a
case that could result in life in prison.
Rahimi has pleaded not guilty to a host of both U.S. and New
Jersey state charges that he detonated bombs in New York and New
Jersey in September and left behind others that failed to
U.S. investigators have portrayed Rahimi as a jihadist who
bought bomb components on eBay and kept a journal expressing
outrage at the U.S. “slaughter” of mujahideen fighters in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.
Prosecutors want to start the trial in March, as originally
set by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, partly because “there
is an elevated interest on the part of the public,” Assistant
U.S. Attorney Emil Bove told a hearing on Tuesday in Manhattan
The hearing did not address what defense lawyers called a “serious breach,” as described in a letter to the judge, when a
U.S. agent took a DNA sample in December.
“An agent met and spoke with Mr. Rahimi in connection with
obtaining a DNA sample without notifying defense counsel or
giving counsel the opportunity to be present. This breach will
require pretrial litigation to determine the scope of any
constitutional, procedural and ethical violations,” said the
letter, dated Monday and signed by Patton, Peggy
Cross-Goldenberg and Sabrina Shroff.
By speaking to Rahimi without his lawyers present, the
government could give the defense an opening to strike that DNA
evidence from trial.
The defense wants to wait until December so it can review
massive amounts of evidence compiled by prosecutors.
“Simply because the case has received publicity is no reason
for the government to rush to trial,” said David Patton, one of
Rahimi’s court-appointed lawyers.
Berman asked both sides to agree to a start date or else he
would impose one of his own.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the
accused a right to a defense lawyer. The Fifth Amendment also
protects a defendant from being a witness against himself.
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