A firm trial date in the federal case against accused Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi is still uncertain despite continuous prodding by a judge of both defense attorneys and prosecutors.
At a hearing Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Judge Richard M. Berman expressed mild irritation, primarily with Rahimi’s defense team, over the pace of pretrial activity.
Rahimi, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was indicted in November on terrorism charges stemming from the Sept. 17 pressure cooker bombing in Chelsea that injured 31 people. He faces similar charges for a device that exploded causing injuries before a charity run in New Jersey.
Rahimi, 29, also faces numerous counts of attempted murder in New Jersey stemming from a shootout he had with cops on Sept. 19, when he was wounded and captured.
Berman said in court that when he asks the defense how far along it is reviewing the digitally stored evidence — estimated at 6 terabytes of computer capacity — he doesn’t get a firm answer.
“I leave conferences bewildered,” the judge said.
Federal defender David Patton said he and co-counsel Sabrina Shroff and Peggy Cross-Goldenberg weren’t trying to be evasive but that it’s difficult to say how much discovery material exists.
Rahimi, who took months to recuperate from his wounds, walked on his own into court dressed in prison garb.
In a letter filed with the court, the defense said the government’s proposed March 27 trial date doesn’t allow enough time to prepare. On average, cases in the Manhattan court take more than 13 months from first appearance to get to trial, the letter said.
The defense asked that the court not set a trial date earlier than Dec. 4.
Berman asked both sides to meet and try to agree on when pretrial motions and a trial date can be set. He adjourned the case until March 2.