Defense attorneys for two of the men charged in an alleged bomb plot in western Kansas argued their clients were manipulated by the FBI into remaining part of the conspiracy.
Cross examination of Dan Day, the paid FBI informant in the case, wrapped up Wednesday, with the defense asking him why he didn’t put a stop to the plot earlier when he had the chance.
Day recorded hundreds of hours of meetings and phone calls with Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright. Prosecutors say the three men planned to attack Somali Muslim immigrants in Garden City in November 2016, going so far as to pick a target and gather materials for a bomb.
All three have pleaded not guilty.
Day testified earlier in the trial in Wichita’s federal courthouse that he maintained a “persona” as a member of the Kansas Security Force — a militia the men belonged to — but wasn’t working to further the plan.
James Pratt, Stein’s attorney, argued Day went out of bounds. He pointed to a recorded phone call in early September when Stein expresses frustration with the planning process and suggests backing out of the plan; Day urges him to stay.
“You were doing everything you could,” Pratt said Wednesday, “to make sure the defendants stayed together and worked toward your goal.”
Day responded he was trying to prevent any of the members from leaving and potentially doing “their own thing,” without the FBI knowing about it.
“What if they wanted to go off and do nothing?” Pratt asked. “You weren’t working toward that end, were you? You were working toward them doing something.”
Wright’s attorney, Kari Schmidt, distanced her client from the rest of the group entirely, pointing out that he was absent from several key events included in Day’s testimony, including recruiting meetings.
Though Wright’s business, G&G Home Center in Liberal, was frequently used as a meeting place, Schmidt says Wright was often busy answering the phone, or wasn’t participating in conversations regarding the alleged plot.
“All we know from those recordings is that you were there,” she told Day.
Schmidt played a phone call between Wright and Day from Oct. 11, the day Allen was arrested on domestic abuse charges. During the call, Wright says he is quitting the plan.
“I don’t need to be involved in this,” he says. “I want to be part of changing this country constitutionally, but I don’t want to be involved in that.”
Still, countered federal prosecutor Risa Berkower, Wright did sign on to the plan.
“When you discussed blowing up the Mary Street building,” she asked Day, “did Gavin Wright say ‘No, no, no,’ or, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’?”
Day said that unlike other militia members who were aware of the plan, Wright was working to execute it.
Day said it was Allen’s unexpected arrest that eventually put an end to the planning; his ex-girlfriend told law enforcement she thought the men were making explosives, and soon after Wright and Stein were also arrested.
“If that hadn’t happened, they would have built a bomb and blown up the building,” he said.
Nadya Faulx is a reporter for KMUW and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow her on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.
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