WICHITA — Attorneys defending three southwest Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb a Garden City apartment complex where Somali immigrants live and worship are arguing there wouldn’t have been a plot without FBI manipulation.
The defense is now calling its witnesses in the trial, which has entered its fourth week. That includes FBI agent Amy Kuhn, who took the witness stand Tuesday and Wednesday. She was one of the agents who headed the investigation that led to the arrest of defendants Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen.
The defense characterized Kuhn’s decisions while leading the investigation as strategically driven to build a case against the defendants. They also questioned why Kuhn hadn’t simply informed the three men they were aware of the plot and asked them to stop.
During cross-examination, Kuhn said her decisions were made based on evolving safety concerns from the “emerging threat” the defendants represented. She said recordings gathered by a paid informant showed the men to be distrustful of the government and that they had already discussed lying to law enforcement, making the FBI think a knock-on-the-door was unlikely to deter the men.
Stein, Wright and Allen are accused of plotting to bomb an apartment building in Garden City predominantly occupied by Muslim immigrants the day after the 2016 presidential election.
Dan Day, the paid informant whose recordings of the defendants are the backbone of the government's case, testified at the end of March. While the prosecution portrayed Day as a selfless hero, the defense said he was just looking for a paycheck and, along with the FBI, manipulated the defendants. In a list of suspected motives for Day’s cooperation, Kuhn listed “patriotism” first.
The three defendants have separate attorneys. Those representing Wright and Allen have portrayed their clients as less involved than the other defendants. Kuhn testified that Stein was clearly the most radical of the three, but Allen did drive much of the conservation.
At one point during her cross-examination by the prosecution, Kuhn read from what appeared to be Allen’s manifesto. It mentioned an attempt to give America a "forced wake up call."
The trial is expected to last two more weeks.