Make us your home page

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

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]