CHICAGO (CBS) — They were ready for war. That’s what prosecutors said about the three men known as the NATO 3, on trial facing terrorism charges.
Opening statements took place today in the case against Brent Betterly, Jared Chase and Brian Church.
Prosecutors charge the three set out to harm the city. But CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, one defense attorney described them merely as ‘goofs’.
Thomas Durkin says, “It’s a very significant case. It’s a very important case.” Durkin told jurors he believes prosecutors will have a tough time convincing jurors the three defendants set out to be terrorists.
But in opening statements, prosecutor Matthew Thrun said the three suspects not only wanted to harm the public during the city’s NATO summit, they also wanted to set police officers on fire. Their weapon? Molotov cocktails.
“They were going to be on the front lines and front pages,” Thrun told jurors. “They wanted to set fire to the system they felt cheated them.”
Thrun argued two undercover police officers infiltrated the suspects’ group and caught the plans on audio tape.
But defense attorneys for all three men say this is a case about drunken, drug-induced talk, not terrorist plots. They charged those undercover officers were on a mission to nab anyone. “They’re trying to created bogeymen,” Durkin told jurors. “If these guys are terrorists, we have nothing to worry about.”
CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller says they were two very different sides but believes jurors will know early on which side to believe, based on the evidence.
The trial resumes Wednesday when one of the undercover officers will be back on the witness stand. Prosecutors are also expected to play some of those audio tapes for the jury.