NEW ORLEANS (August 20, 2013)—The U.S. 5th Circuit Court, in New Orleans, has rejected an appeal by would-be Fort Hood bomber Naser Jason Abdo and upheld his conviction on several counts related to his attempt to kill U.S. Army soldiers.
Waco attorney Stan Schweiger, who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith to handle Abdo’s appeal after he was convicted in August 2012 on several counts related to an attempt to blow up a Killeen restaurant with the intent of killing Fort Hood soldiers.
The three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit Court released its nine-page order affirming the conviction and sentences on Monday.
In the first issue of a three-issue appeal, Schweiger asked that the appeals court find error when Smith denied a motion to suppress evidence found at the time of Abdo’s arrest and statements made by Abdo to Killeen police, because, according to Schweiger, the arrest was not supported by sufficient probable cause.
Abdo was arrested on July 27, 2011, at a hotel in Killeen after a clerk at a local gun store alerted police to suspicious activity.
The 5th Court, however, said “We conclude that, under all the circumstances present in this case, the police had reasonable suspicion to believe that Abdo was armed and dangerous and that the police effected a lawful investigative detention.”
Further the court said “We have held, however, that ‘using some force on a suspect, pointing a weapon at a suspect, ordering a suspect to lie on the ground, and handcuffing a suspect – whether singly or in combination – do not automatically convert an investigatory detention into an arrest requiring probable cause.’”
Schweiger’s next issue revolved around Abdo’s possession of a firearm and a superseding indictment that charged Abdo possessed the handgun in furtherance of a crime.
On that issue the 5th Court found under a “plain error review” that the trial court did not err and the judges rejected Abdo’s argument.
The last issue sought to have Smith’s ruling on refusing to pay for an expert witness overturned.
But the 5th Court waived the final issue saying it failed on its merits.
In doing that the 5th Court said “Abdo wished to have an expert testify that a bomb made with the materials found in Abdo’s backpack and hotel room would not be capable of causing much damage.
“The evidence at trial showed, however, that an explosive device could have been constructed from the materials … and the actual amount of damage that could have been caused is irrelevant.”
Abdo is an inmate at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Florence Administrative Maximum Security facility, which is 45 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colo.
At his sentencing on Aug. 10, 2012, former U.S. Army PFC Abdo, now 23, asked for no mercy because he believed Allah would show him mercy.
Smith showed him none, imposing two consecutive life prison sentences for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and for possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Smith also sentenced Abdo to a total of 60 consecutive years imprisonment for 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 one count of possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Smith also ordered Abdo to pay a total of $3,000 in fines and a $100 special assessment to the court.
Abdo, who's from Garland, joined the Army in March 2009, but went AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., on July 4, 2011, on the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan.
Abdo said he came to Killeen on Jihad after he was falsely accused of possessing child pornography at Fort Campbell, Ky., and in a statement that lasted for more than 30 minutes, he said his path to Jihad would continue and that he would be given justice under Allah.
He also told the court he was being persecuted because he is a Muslim.
Abdo represented himself after Smith granted his request last month to fire his attorneys.
Abdo said that he and his attorneys weren't communicating effectively.
The original indictment against him 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.