About 150 prospective jurors were questioned in federal court in Manhattan Wednesday on matters ranging from Osama bin Laden to prejudices about “improvised explosive devices” and Muslims as jury selection began in the trial of accused Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman hopes to have a jury picked by Monday for opening statements, and ordered 36 jurors to report to the courtroom Thursday morning to continue questioning, with the rest on call at the courthouse if more are needed.
Rahimi, 29, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged with planting two pressure cooker bombs in Chelsea last September. One exploded, injuring 30 people. He is separately accused in New Jersey of planting bombs there, and being involved in a shootout with Linden, New Jersey, police when he was caught.
During questioning in open court, some jurors expressed skepticism about being able to stay away from information about the case because of social media, and others discussed their familiarity with bin Laden and the Islamic State.
In the afternoon, when Berman and the lawyers turned to questioning jurors individually, he did it privately at the front of the courtroom, excluding the press.