Attorneys for Khalid Aldawsari filed a motion for a new trial Wednesday night, along with a motion to toss out his conviction. Wednesday was the deadline and the court records show the two motions were filed less than a half hour before the stroke of midnight.
Last month Aldawsari was convicted in Amarillo on a change of venue for one charge of Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Court records say he collected the material for a bomb in his Central Lubbock Apartment. Court records also say he had proposed targets nationwide and desired for "jihad."
The request for an acquittal says, "Mr. Aldawsari, however, never took a substantial step toward the ‘use' of a weapon of mass destruction. He never committed an act that was ‘strongly corroborative' of criminal intent. Nor did he cross the line between mere preparation and attempt, and no reasonable jury could find that it did."
The records also say, "Mr. Aldawsari never even possessed a weapon of mass destruction that he could ‘attempt' to use."
Prosecutors never disputed that Aldawsari lacked one major ingredient. But they showed evidence at trial that he had ordered the last ingredient, picric acid, over the Internet and went to great effort in his attempts to get it.
The original criminal complaint in February of 2011 said Aldawsari had proposed targets including Dallas night clubs, hydro-electric dams, and the home of former President George W. Bush.
In the Wednesday night motion, the defense says, "There was no evidence that Aldawsari ever picked out a specific target. No evidence he scouted a location where he planned to detonate an explosive. No evidence he began building an explosive."
The motion quotes legal precedent as saying, "… A ‘substantial step' must both (1) be an act strongly corroborative of the actor's criminal intent and (2) amount to more than mere preparation."
The motion goes on, "Aldawsari's actions of watching videos online on how to construct picric acid and ordering of chemicals do not meet this standard. Rather, they are actions that are engaged in by people who are not in violation of the law."
"The evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to convict on attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction."
Prosecutors will have a chance to respond in the coming days before U.S. District Judge Donald Walter makes a ruling.
Assuming the conviction stands, Aldawsari will be sentenced at a later date. The law says it can be "any number of years."
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