Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge's evidence ban in Megahed trial goes to appeal panel

JACKSONVILLE — Federal prosecutors will soon learn whether a U.S. district judge overstepped his bounds in excluding evidence they planned to use during the explosives trial for former University of South Florida student Youssef Megahed.

It's unclear when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule, but a three-judge panel heard arguments about the case in Jacksonville Wednesday.

Prosecutors want the appellate court to reverse U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday's ruling prohibiting them from showing jurors nine video clips taken from Megahed's home computer. The clips, each 20 seconds or less, show rockets launching in combat zones in the Middle East and explosive devices being used against U.S. military vehicles.

In court Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rhodes called the clips "possibly crucial" to the government's case against Megahed, who is charged with illegally transporting explosive materials and a destructive device.

Rhodes called Merryday's actions an abuse of discretion.

Merryday excluded the clips to sanction the government for disclosing them to the defense after a deadline.

U.S. Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson said the law gives vast discretion to district judges on admitting evidence for trial.

"I'm not convinced yet that there is an abuse of discretion," Wilson said.

Megahed and fellow student Ahmed Mohamed were arrested Aug. 4, 2007, after a deputy stopped them for speeding in Goose Creek, S.C., and found explosive materials in their trunk.

Mohamed pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists after an FBI investigation revealed he had posted a YouTube video showing how to turn a remote control toy into a detonator. He is serving a maximum 15-year prison term.

In excluding the Megahed computer clips, Merryday said they were similar to a 40-minute video prosecutors want to use at trial. That video, which prosecutors believe Megahed had viewed shortly before his arrest, was on Mohamed's laptop.

Merryday indicated that he might not allow that video at trial either, but said prosecutors could argue for its admission later.

Judge's evidence ban in Megahed trial goes to appeal panel 01/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 9:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum

    Hurricanes

    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  3. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar

    Blogs

    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.