US Judge Dismisses Juror After Jury Selected in Abdulmutallab Trial

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. judge has dismissed a juror in the trial of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner using a bomb hidden in his underwear in 2009.

Detroit District Judge Nancy Edmunds dismissed the woman, a native of Nigeria, from the jury on Thursday, minutes after the prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on the selection of the 12-member panel and four alternates. Edmunds said there was a “problem” with the juror, but did not elaborate.

The prosecution and defense had spent two days questioning a pool of more than 40 potential jurors for the trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has become known as the “underwear bomber.” They quickly narrowed the candidates to 12 jurors and four alternates on Thursday, raising no objections to the inclusion of the Nigerian woman.

Court rules require her to be replaced by an alternate and a new alternate to be chosen. Opening statements in the trial are set for October 11. Abdulmutallab faces multiple charges including conspiracy to commit terrorism in connection with the December 25, 2009 incident on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Passengers subdued the Nigerian after his explosives failed to detonate.

Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer for the trial, but a court-appointed standby attorney did most of the questioning of prospective jurors. The attorney, Anthony Chambers, wrote a letter to the court Wednesday, complaining that most of the potential jurors had feelings of “anger, pain and vengeance” toward the defendant.

Abdulmutallab made several outbursts in court Tuesday as jury selection began, proclaiming allegiance to al-Qaida and claiming that American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is still alive. U.S. and Yemeni officials say Awlaki was killed in an airstrike in Yemen last week.