Local News

Mounds of evidence in terror case turned over to defense

Posted December 17, 2009 12:18 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2009 4:29 p.m. EST

— Seven Triangle-area men accused of plotting terrorist acts were back in federal court in Raleigh on Thursday for the first time in four months as their attorneys and prosecutors discussed progress in the case.

Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, his sons, Dylan Boyd, 22, and Zakariya "Zak" Boyd, 20, and four other men – Hysen Sherifi, 24, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22, Ziyad Yaghi, 21, and Anes Subasic, 33 – were indicted in July on charges that they plotted to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people overseas.

Daniel Boyd, Zak Boyd and Subasic are being held without bond at a prison in Virginia, while the other four are being held without bond in the Harnett County Jail.

An eighth suspect, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 20, is believed to be in Pakistan.

Daniel Boyd and Sherifi also are charged with planning an attack on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.

The seven men in custody were brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles and were surrounded by U.S. marshals. Dozens of family members and supporters packed the courtroom.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys haggled for weeks over evidence in the case that isn't classified for national security reasons but is still considered sensitive. Prosecutors wanted to know with whom defense attorneys were sharing the information, but defense attorneys said that would interfere with their planning and strategy.

They recently reached an agreement to have designated government officials create a record when defense attorneys use sensitive information with witnesses. Those officials aren't allowed to talk about the requests with prosecutors, and if any concern arises over certain documents, both sides could hold a telephone hearing on a classified line.

Prosecutors have turned over to defense attorneys 17,000 pages and 493 CDs filled with evidence, as well as numerous audio clips.

"You have a daunting task ahead of you," Chief U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan told defense attorneys, noting prosecutors want to schedule the trial in the case for next fall.

Before heading behind closed doors with prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss issues in private, Flanagan told defense attorneys she would make resources available to them so they could prepare their cases in time.

During the hearing, Subasic rose and asked that his court-appointed attorney, Keat Wiles, be replaced. Flanagan told him the hearing wasn't the proper place for such a request and then advised him to be careful about switching attorneys.

"You're not entitled to an attorney that you like. You're entitled to a competent attorney," she said.

A Muslim activist at the hearing said the seven men are being treated unfairly.

"Because these are Muslims in a post-9/11 environment, we're seeing the way these defendants are being treated," Mauri Saalakhan said. "There's a presumption of guilt."

Defense attorney Dan Boyce disagreed, saying "everybody's played by the rules so far."

"What the public may not realize is the volume of material that has to be reviewed (before trial)," Boyce said.