Alleged subway shooter Frank R. James is led out of...

Alleged subway shooter Frank R. James is led out of the 9th Precinct in Manhattan by members of the NYPD and FBI on April 13. Credit: John Roca

A federal terrorism trial for the man accused in a shooting on a New York City subway train in April in which 10 people were wounded by gunfire and dozens more received other injuries is tentatively set for February 2023, a judge said Monday.

During a hearing in the case against Frank James, a drifter who had lived for a time in Philadelphia, Brooklyn federal judge William F. Kuntz II indicated that a Feb. 27, 2023, trial date was subject to change because as a complex case it involved voluminous amounts of material which would be the subject of pretrial motions.

James, 62, was indicted under a federal terrorism statute with shooting up a crowded Manhattan-bound N train as it approached the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on April 12, setting off panic and a large response by police and emergency personnel.

James, who was also accused of setting off a smoke bomb to cover his escape, was captured a day later by police after his photo was widely distributed in the news media. He also faces a federal firearms charge.

At Monday’s brief court hearing, James appeared dressed in light tan jail garb. He answered “not too good” when Kuntz asked how he was doing. James also remarked that he had some concerns about news items he wanted to ask the judge about but never did. Defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg didn’t return a request for comment about James’s court remarks.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik said she was pressing for a February trial date in consideration of the many victims in the case who wanted closure. 

One potential complication in a February 2023 trial date is the large amount of discovery material that has been turned over to the defense. Eisner-Grynberg of the Federal Defenders service said some 1.1 terabytes of materials, which she said was the equivalent of tens of thousands of pages of documents, has to be analyzed before trial and to help the defense prepare pretrial motions.

According to government court filings, the materials given to James’ attorneys included myriad witness statements including those of victims and potential trial witnesses, FBI reports and DNA reports of genetic samples taken from firearms James allegedly used, the results of searches made of James’s storage facility and rental home in Philadelphia and the results of a search of a smartphone James is said to have abandoned at the site of the attack.       

Prosecutors said they also turned over the substance of thousands of tips received about the attack, although under law the government is not obligated to do so.

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