CLEVELAND – One of five men charged with plotting to bomb a highway bridge wants to be tried separately and have the trial outside northeast Ohio, where the men allegedly considered blowing up various high-profile targets.
The requests were filed Monday by Douglas Wright's attorney, who says Wright should be tried separately because the other defendants have pointed to him as an instigator.
Authorities have called the men anarchists, and investigators say the group planted what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant on a bridge south of Cleveland and then tried to detonate it.
All five have pleaded not guilty. They could face life in prison if convicted.
The attorney for Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, said the trial should be moved more than 100 miles to Toledo in northwest Ohio, away from northeast Ohio targets that allegedly were considered. There was no immediate ruling from U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd, who had scheduling meetings on the case Tuesday.
Wright's attorney, Anthony Vegh, said the other defendants had implicated his client during their initial interviews with the FBI.
The government likely will seek to use that testimony from FBI agents, but the four wouldn't be subject to cross-examination by the Wright defense, Vegh said. That situation would violate Wright's constitutional right to confront his accusers, Vegh told the judge in the motion for a separate trial.
The motion said the other defendants told the FBI that Wright "got him involved in the conspiracy," hinted they were about to do something "real crazy," ''probably tried to make an explosive," and "carried the boxes that were placed under the bridge."
In seeking to move the case out of Akron, Vegh said the government's allegation that targets had been considered across Cleveland would prejudice jurors familiar with the locations and might make them think they had been potential victims.
"How could a juror whose daughter drives across the Veterans Memorial Bridge every day remain dispassionate when he hears that the defendants considered blowing that bridge up," Vegh asked in the motion. "It would be unrealistic to expect such a juror to not be hostile."
Attorneys for co-defendants Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea, and Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, said they wouldn't comment on the issues of a separate trial and moving the trial.
Messages seeking comment were left for the other defense attorneys and for prosecutors.