WACO (August 8, 2012)—When Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo appears in federal court on Thursday in Waco to learn his sentence, he’ll be representing himself.
Abdo, 22, fired his attorneys in July after his conviction in May for plotting to detonate a bomb in a restaurant frequented by Fort Hood soldiers.
His sentencing, originally set for Friday, was moved earlier in the week to 3 p.m. Thursday before federal district Judge Walter S. Smith in the Waco courthouse.
The last time Abdo appeared in U.S. District Court on July 12, he was wearing a "spit mask" that covered his mouth to prevent him from spitting at officers or court personnel, which he is accused of doing on earlier dates.
At the time he told U.S. District Judge Walter Smith he wanted to represent himself.
"There is no monumental reason for the move, I would just like better communication," Abdo said.
Lawyer Zachary Boyd, who along with Michael White represented Abdo at trial, told Smith, "Naser Abdo has made a determination that he would better represent himself. He understands I don't agree with that."
Smith explained to Abdo that his lack of legal experience put him at a disadvantage, and Abdo responded that he understood that.
Smith then told Abdo he had no choice but to let him represent himself.
Abdo was charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempted murder of officers or employees of the United States, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal crime of violence, and, two counts of possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
The most serious charge, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, could land him in prison for life.
Abdo was arrested on July 27, 2011, at a hotel in Killeen after a clerk at a local gun store alerted authorities about a man who bought a quantity of gunpowder.
The original indictment alleges that Abdo had shotgun shells and pellets, six containers of smokeless gunpowder, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill, two pressure cookers and instructions on how to build a bomb.
Abdo, who's from Garland, joined the Army in March 2009.
He went AWOL on July 4, 2011, on the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan.
In November 2011 he told a television station in Tennessee he was originally planning an attack on his home base of Fort Campbell, Ky.
He told WSMV-TV in Nashville his target at the base on the Kentucky-Tennessee line was a high-ranking official whom he did not name.
He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Company E, 1st Brigade Combat Team (Rear Provisional) at the time of his arrest.