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A trial began Wednesday for an alleged homegrown extremist charged with plotting to kill Americans on behalf of the Islamic State.
David Wright, of Everett, is also accused of recruiting members of a martyrdom operation that culminated with the local attack against police in 2015.
When he came into court in June 2015, defendant David Daoud Wright weighed in at over 500 pounds. He's still towering, but he's shed several hundred pounds as well as his middle name. He's now David and not David Daoud.
Prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann got to work quickly on Wednesday. The judge had given her just 15 minutes to outline the case to jurors.
"The case is about a U.S. citizen who recruited his own uncle and [another man] he met on Facebook to assist him in conducting terrorist attacks," she said.
Wright and his two alleged co-conspirators were in their 20s and suddenly caught up in ISIS, talk of martyrdom and the call to kill nonbelievers.
Their original mission, the prosecutor told jurors, was to find and behead the controversial conservative blogger Pamela Geller in New York City. She had promoted a cartoon contest in Texas to make fun of the Prophet Muhammad. ISIS wanted her dead.
The prosecutor says the three men conducted research on the internet, met on beaches, and read glossy magazines published by ISIS. Wright allegedly studied ways to incapacitate cops with tasers and take their guns and cars after luring them by false calls for help.
Wright's uncle wanted "to go after an easier target." Instead, they decided to attack "the boys in blue in Massachusetts."
They never made it to Syria to fight with ISIS. They never made it to New York either. That, the prosecution says, is because Wright's uncle, who was three years younger, wanted "to go after an easier target." Instead, they decided to attack "the boys in blue in Massachusetts." And the government says it was Wright who directed and encouraged his uncle Usaamah Abdullah Rahim to attack.
On June 2, 2015, as Boston police and FBI agents approached Rahim in Roslindale to question him, he pulled a knife and attacked. They shot him to death.
That left two alleged conspirators and one of them, Nicholas Rovinski, is now a government witness against the other.
The case is like many of the cases brought by the Joint Terrorist Task Force, involving young radicalized defendants, detected early one and monitored.
The main charges against Wright are the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
For the defense, a striking opening line: "What David Wright was in 2015 was a complete idiot," said attorney Jessica Hedges.
She described a pathetic figure: a 530-pound man living with his mother, lying on the couch and surfing the web and playing video games.
"He talked and he talked and he talked," Hedges said. Thereby acknowledging all the government's secretly taped conversations of him talking and talking.
"Obnoxious, self-consumed..." she said. Offensive words from a very fat man who craved attention and escape.
"Words, just words," she said. "But what he was not and is not is guilty of crimes."
The trimmed-down defendant is facing a heavy sentence if convicted.
This segment aired on September 20, 2017.
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