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Q&A: Closing Arguments Set To Begin In Mohamud Trial

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Wednesday as a jury prepares to decide the fate of Mohamed Mohamud.

The 21-year-old man was arrested two years ago as he pushed the numbers on a cell phone he believed would set off a huge explosion at Portland’s holiday tree lighting ceremony. This month’s trial has explored Islamic extremism, terrorism, and the government’s approach to preventing it.

A courtroom sketch of Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted for plotting to bomb Portland’s holiday tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.

A courtroom sketch of Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted for plotting to bomb Portland’s holiday tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.

Sketch by Deborah Marble

OPB’s April Baer has been following the case, and joins me now to talk about it. Hear the complete report above.

GN: This trial lasted a week and a half. Wasn’t it supposed to go for five or six weeks?

AB: The federal Judge overseeing the case, Garr King, was certainly concerned about that, and said so in pretrial hearing.

He pressed the attorneys to pick up their pace, up til the last day of testimony.

If you discount the opening and closing statements, we ended up with nine days of testimony from the prosecution comprising just over 20 witnesses, and two days of testimony from the defense, with just over a dozen witnesses. Both sides used people know knew and trusted Mohamud. Both sides used expert witnesses. And both spent a lot of time talking to the two undercover FBI employees who spent hours with Mohamud as the operation went forward.

GN: And what’s the plan for this morning?

AB: Judge King will instruct the jury first. He’s going to explain the legal definition of entrapment to them.

Then both sides will make their closing statements. These may be quite lengthy, or they might keep them somewhat short. Openers were about thirty minutes each, so we know these attorneys can be brief when they want to.

GN: Obviously, you didn’t have access to any of the jurors. But do you have any sense at all of what they think of the evidence?

AB: Not a clue. We’ve had two jurors bow out for reasons Judge King didn’t explain. Could be illness or other personal matters. And the remaining jurors and alternates have great poker faces. They have not let out little sounds or anything like that. Some of us reporters were trying to interpret how they were feeling at various points in the testimony, and all we had to go on was pretty ridiculous minutia. It’s best to just wait for the verdict.

GN: And how long will deliberations take?

AB: Hard to say. It all depends on how like-minded they are on the evidence. We’ll get you an update as soon as possible when they reach a verdict.

That’s OPB’s April Baer. She’s following the trial of Mohamed Mohamud in federal court in Portland. Closing arguments are set to begin today.

April Baer is covering the Mohamud trial for OPB. You can reach her at

Find more Mohamud trial coverage here.
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