New Jersey

Prosecutors Show Mangled Dumpster at Chelsea Bombing Trial

Jurors in the case against a man accused of detonating a homemade bomb in Chelsea were given a firsthand look on Thursday at a hulking piece of evidence that the government says shows the defendant's determination to do harm: a dumpster destroyed by the blast.

During testimony by a bomb squad investigator, federal prosecutors lifted the cover off of the mangled, waist-high trash bin - the kind used to remove construction debris - that had been wheeled into the Manhattan courtroom and placed in front of the jury box at the trial of Ahmad Khan Rahimi.

The explosion, caused by a homemade device placed next to the bin, was powerful enough to send it flying 120 feet across 23rd Street in an attack that injured 30 people on the night of Sept. 17, 2016.

The NYPD bomb squad investigator, Jason Hallik, testified that the attacker used a pressure-cooker bomb designed to cause "pure devastation." The ingredients included glass, metal and ball bearings meant to serve as shrapnel and a cellphone used as a detonator, he said.

As panic spread, a second pressure-cooker bomb was discovered a few blocks away on 27th Street. But it failed to go off and was removed by a robot, Hallik said.

The testimony came on the fourth day of the trial of Rahimi, who has pleaded not guilty to using a weapon of mass destruction and other federal charges.

Surveillance video presented by prosecutors showed Rahimi carrying bags in Penn Station hours before the blast. He's later seen in Chelsea with the bags. But a half-hour after the explosion, prosecutors say he can be seen walking past the Hotel Pennsylvania, no bags in hand. 

Prosecutors said the 29-year-old defendant considered himself "a soldier in a Holy War against Americans" in an alleged plot to set off three bombs in one day. The third device - a pipe bomb - exploded earlier at a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, but didn't hurt anyone.

Defense lawyers have called the government's evidence flawed and questioned whether the crime scene was properly secured. They urged jurors to keep an open mind about their client. 

Rahimi faces life in prison if convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction. 

The trial has been adjourned until Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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