NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday set an October trial date for a man accused of detonating a bomb that injured 30 people in New York City, delaying the scheduled start about six months after defense lawyers argued they needed more time to prepare their case.
Court-appointed lawyers for Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 29, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, had complained that U.S. District Judge Richard Bermand and prosecutors were pushing for too prompt a start for a case that could result in life in prison.
U.S. investigators have portrayed Rahimi as a jihadist who bought bomb components on eBay and kept a journal expressing outrage at the U.S. “slaughter” of mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.
The judge initially set a March trial start, which would have been six months after the Sept. 17 blast in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea that officials said sent a 100-pound (45-kg) garbage dumpster flying 120 feet (36 meters) and caused damage across a 650-foot (200-meter) crime scene.
Rahimi has pleaded not guilty to a host of both U.S. and New Jersey state charges that he detonated that bomb in New York, another in New Jersey earlier that day and left behind others that failed to explode.
Prosecutors had argued in favor of the early start in part because of elevated public interest while also saying trials typically start 12 to 16 months after a defendant’s first appearance in court.
But defense lawyers said it would be unfair to the defendant considering the massive volume of evidence that needs to be reviewed.
After considering arguments from both sides, the judge on Friday set a date of Oct. 2 for jury selection to begin, roughly 12 months after the events.
Rahimi was arrested two days after the blasts in a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, in which five police officers were injured.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman