Judge to allow Chicago terror defendant hearing on odd guilty plea

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Chuck Goudie and the ABC7 I-Team report on a judge's decision to consider allowing Chicago terrorism defendant Adel Daoud to change his plea to guilty without actually having to admit guilt.

In an extremely rare legal move, a federal judge will allow a hearing for Chicago terrorism defendant Adel Daoud to change his plea to guilty without actually having to admit guilt.

The hearing will be held in 10 days on Monday, November 26, the original trial date for Daoud. Now instead on that date Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman will hear Daoud's request for a little-invoked "Alford plea" that allows a defendant to plead guilty for legal and sentencing purposes but at the same time state their innocence to the actual criminal offense.

As the ABC7 I-Team reported on Thursday, Daoud stands ready to plead guilty to a downtown Chicago mass murder plot, as long as he doesn't have to actually admit he did it.

Federal prosecutors oppose Daoud's use of the scarcely used "Alford" tactic.

"This is a very, very important ruling" said Daoud's attorney Thomas Durkin.

"This is an incredibly good solution to a very, very complicated problem," Durkin said, noting that it is the first time in his 46-year career that he has ever had a judge accept the use of such an "Alford plea."

Durkin explained that, "Alford is a....case that permits people who wish to maintain their innocence, which he does, rightly so in my opinion, but acknowledging that there is sufficient evidence to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Daoud, 25, was initially charged with trying to detonate a car bomb outside a Loop bar in 2012. Subsequently, he faced charges of soliciting the murder of the undercover federal agent who worked the sting case and an additional charge of trying to kill an fellow inmate in the federal lock up. Wound through the case against Daoud the past six years has been a stream of psych examinations and challenges to his mental competency. He was eventually determined to be competent.

"On September 14, 2012, defendant attempted to detonate a car bomb in downtown Chicago. Defendant's goal in doing so was to kill hundreds of people and make international news," prosecutors stated in their opposition filing. "Approximately two months later, while in custody, defendant attempted to arrange the murder of a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent."

Then in 2015 authorities say they determined that Daoud "fashioned weapons out of toothbrushes and attacked a fellow inmate, attempting to kill him because the inmate had drawn pictures of the Prophet Muhammad."
Those three cases are being consolidated under Friday's order by Judge Coleman.

The Hillside man was a teenager when arrested by the FBI following the sting operation. During the past few years he has been in regular contact with the ABC7 I-Team, by phone and by letter.

Daoud has been has complained to the I-Team that the government is composed of "alien reptiles from another planet who worship the devil." He appears obsessed with "lizard people" who control the United States.

In one call from prison Daoud told the I-Team that he had been "kidnapped" by the government because he is Muslim and wanted to publicly announce that he was backing then-candidate Donald Trump for president.

Attorney Durkin on Friday told the I-Team that the use of an Alford plea will mean Daoud "doesn't have to withstand the stress of the trial." The concern, Durkin said, was how a prosecution would affect Daoud's mental state. "If he was found incompetent again that would have had a lot of procedural complications that nobody wanted to face" he said.

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