NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man accused of setting off a pipe bomb in New York City that injured 30 people went on trial Monday, but opening statements were made without him in the courtroom.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi was ordered out of the courtroom after refusing to obey the judge’s orders as the prosecutor tried to start opening statements.
Rahimi is charged with detonating a pipe bomb along the Seaside Semper Five charity race along the Jersey Shore, as well as planting two pressure cooker bombs in Chelsea on Sept. 17, 2016.
The device did not explode, but the other one detonated in Chelsea and injured 30 people.
Appearing in court Monday, Rahimi stood and asked to speak as a prosecutor tried to start opening statements. The judge told him to sit down or he’d be removed. When he tried again to speak, marshals escorted him out and opening statements went forward without him.
With a jury looking on, he was escorted out of the courtroom. Later, he returned and apologized to the judge for making a scene, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
He expressed frustration about not being able to see his wife and children.
Rahimi has not been charged with terrorism, but federal lawyers say his interest in jihad, terrorist attacks and terrorist organizations vastly influenced his plans.
The government said it is seeking to have an expert witness testify about al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders as a primer for jurors and to help explain some writings he made in a journal.
Defense lawyers have argued the government is trying to wrongly paint a picture of Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen, as an extremist. They say federal lawyers have drummed up a “radicalization” theory
“To make its case more ‘compelling, dramatic, and seductive,'” the lawyers wrote in court papers.
Rahimi, 29, who lived with his family in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged with detonating a pipe bomb along a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and planting two pressure cooker bombs in Manhattan.
Rahimi was shot by law enforcement during his arrest two days after the attacks. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
Jurors were expected to see various terrorism-related videotapes, a book, a blood-stained journal with a bullet hole in it and two 2012 emails found during the investigation, after U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman ruled the evidence could be included because they might show motive, intentions, preparation and knowledge of the bombings.
They also may hear details of a bomb left in an Elizabeth, New Jersey, trash can, along with video recordings of Rahimi in New Jersey and New York on Sept. 17 and setting off explosives in his backyard two days before the bombing.
Prosecutors have said they’re not planning to introduce statements Rahimi made in the days after his arrest, gleaned while he was hospitalized and medicated with a breathing tube down his throat. Investigators asked him yes or no questions and had Rahimi nod his head. His lawyers said he was improperly interrogated.
Berman rejected a request to move the trial from New York to Vermont or Washington, D.C.
Rahimi also has been charged with attempted murder in New Jersey, because authorities say he shot at police officers during his arrest. Details of the shootout won’t be included in the federal trial.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)