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Defense In Kansas Bombing Trial Blames FBI As Lead Agent Is Questioned

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Attorneys defending three Kansas men accused of a bomb plot in Garden City 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 the defendants.

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.

Defendants Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis 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 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.


Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Copyright 2018 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Stephan Bisaha is a former NPR Kroc Fellow. Along with producing Weekend Edition, Stephan has reported on national stories for Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as other NPR programs. He provided data analysis for an investigation into the Department of Veteran Affairs and reported on topics ranging from Emojis to mattresses.