Prosecutors at the upcoming trial of alleged Chelsea bomber Ahmed Khan Rahimi can’t bring his shootout with New Jersey police into the case, but will be able to introduce a jihadist notebook and video of him setting off a bomb in his backyard, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, in a series of rulings setting the stage for Rahimi’s Oct. 2 trial, said that the federal case in Manhattan focuses on bombs Rahimi planted in New York, and bringing in the shootout with Linden, N.J police when he was caught was unduly prejudicial.
“The court has every confidence these matters can be handled by New Jersey state courts,” Berman said.
But the judge read an excerpt from the notebook in which Rahimi cited Osama bin Laden, referred to “bombs in your streets” and concluded “Death to your oppression,” and said it was relevant to reveal Rahimi’s alleged “intent and plan” to try to affect U.S. policy through bombs.
Rahimi, 29, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is accused of planting two pressure-cooker bombs in Chelsea last Sept. 17, one of which exploded and injured 30 people. He is also accused in New Jersey of planting bombs there, and starting the shootout with police.
Most of the rulings went the government’s way. Berman said he would allow evidence about the New Jersey bombs, a video of bomb testing in Rahimi’s back yard, and surveillance video of Rahimi travelling to New York last September.
In an unexpected development, Berman also played a voicemail left on his chambers’ phone from a woman who identified herself as Ashley and said had committed the bombings with an “infinity light” after being in an electric chair and not dying.
The judge passed the recording on to prosecutors and defense lawyers, but none indicated that they planned to take it seriously.