Three Kansas white supremacists who requested to have Trump voters on their jury as they’re tried for attempting to bomb a mosque and a Somali refugee community got their request forcefully denied on Friday.
District Judge Eric Melgren responded with a resounding “no” to Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen’s request to only include voters from a Trump-voting region in Kansas in their jury pool.
The three men were arrested and charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas where 120 Somali refugees lived. Federal officials said the men planned to use truck bombs to blow up the apartments and a mosque on the day after the 2016 presidential election, in Garden City, Kansas.
The jury pool will draw from Wichita and Hutchinson, more urban areas than Garden City, but Wright, Stein and Allen wanted people who are “more politically conservative, especially if they voted for Trump,” according to High Plains Public Radio.
But Judge Melgren said their request did not have a legal basis, and they did not show that the current jury pool areas would discriminate against Republicans.
The men are charged with conspiracy against civil rights and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and they have pleaded not guilty. Their defense lawyers allege the men were exercising their free speech rights and right to bear arms.
The thinking behind the request, according to the lawyer, was that one area’s residents have different beliefs and would be able to understand the men’s motives. In one area, three-fourths of residents voted for Donald Trump, Mercury News reported.
The men were part of a local militia group, prosecutors said. According to prosecutors and a wiretap transcript they obtained, Wright said he wanted the attack on Somalis in Kansas to “wake people up,” according to the news outlet.
The trial is set to begin on March 19 in Wichita, the Associated Press reports.