Judge denies request to boost number of Trump voters in jury

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) A judge says three Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb apartments housing Somali refugees have no legal basis to request that prospective jurors come from counties where more residents voted for President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren issued the decision Wednesday.

The men are accused of targeting an apartment complex in Garden City, in rural western Kansas. They're being tried at the closest federal courthouse about 220 miles (354 kilometers) away in Wichita, where trials pull prospective jurors from surrounding, more urban counties.

The men argue the practice is discriminatory because it excludes western Kansas counties with more rural and conservative residents. But the judge ruled that those demographic differences aren't legally recognizable.

Prosecutors argued defense attorneys were trying to pick a jury pool based on ideology.

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Original story from Jan. 4

Attorneys for three men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali refugees have urged a federal judge to include prospective jurors from rural western Kansas because they are more likely to have voted for President Donald Trump.

But the government countered that granting the request would as a matter of policy "wreak havoc." Prosecutors say the defense is seeking to pick a jury pool based on ideology, while "opening a dangerous door" to similar requests in other cases.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren took the matter under consideration after a hearing Wednesday in Kansas.

Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights for allegedly planning to detonate truck bombs in Garden City.

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1/4/2018 12:07:21 AM (GMT -6:00)