Court asked to unseal interview with Montevideo terror suspect
- Article by: Randy Furst
- Star Tribune
- December 12, 2013 - 9:31 PM
A federal court will rule whether the FBI interview with a man accused of plotting to attack the Montevideo, Minn., police station should be made public.
Buford Rogers was questioned by FBI agent Shane Bell on May 3 in Montevideo, immediately after his arrest. The FBI said it had been told by an informant that Rogers planned to destroy a radio tower in Montevideo, raid the National Guard armory and attack the police station.
During a search of his parents’ residential trailer, agents found two Molotov cocktails, a containerized device wrapped in duct tape and a containerized explosive device wrapped in cloth, all with fuses attached.
Rogers was indicted on a charge of being a felon in possession of explosive devices and a firearm. He was not charged under federal terrorism statutes.
Bell testified that he questioned Rogers for 40 minutes before he read him his Miranda rights, because he was concerned there might be other live devices and he worried about the safety of officers and bomb technicians on the scene.
After reading Rogers his rights, the FBI interviewed him for several more hours.
On Friday U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said in a memorandum that the delay in reading Rogers his rights was permissible as a “public safety” exception under federal law.
She ruled that some of Rogers’ answers given before his Miranda rights were read could be used in an upcoming trial, but some could not. She ruled that all of his statements after his rights were read were admissible.
Star Tribune attorney John Borger then renewed a request, turned down earlier in the case, asking that the admissible portions of the transcript and video of the interview be released. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham gave attorneys for Rogers and the prosecution until this week to comment on the newspaper’s request.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter and Charles Kovats Jr. wrote that those portions deemed admissible by Montgomery should be made public as long as inadmissible portions were blacked out if requested by the defense.
However, Andrew Mohring, Rogers’ attorney, said the entire transcript should remained sealed until after the trial, saying the portions that the jury may actually see are not yet clear and will depend on further rulings.
He also said that full disclosure of the transcript “could taint the jury pool, a circumstance that calls for the remedy of a change of venue.”
Mohring wrote that the evidence “would be prejudicial to the public’s and to Mr. Rogers’ interest in a fair trial.”
It is not clear when Graham will rule but it could be quickly.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224
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