Trial of Tenn. man accused of planning mosque attack delayed

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed the trial of a Tennessee man accused of planning an attack on a mosque in New York as authorities and attorneys review information gathered from the man's computer and a wiretap.

U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier signed an order pushing back the trial of 63-year-old Robert Doggart from Sept. 21 to Jan. 19 in Chattanooga. That move came after lawyers representing both Doggart and the government filed a joint motion asking for the delay.

Doggart, who ran last year for Congress in east Tennessee, is out on bond on a charge that he plotted an attack on "Islamberg," a self-named mostly Muslim community near Hancock, New York. He has pleaded not guilty.

In their motion filed Aug. 25, attorneys said the FBI needs more time to analyze some 800 gigabytes of information contained in the hard drive of a computer seized from Doggart's home.

"While certainly not all of that information will be relevant, it will require a lengthy review to comb through that material by the government," the motion said.

Doggart's attorneys also need more time to thoroughly review contents of a wiretap and "the information received from various search warrants" before trial, the motion said.

Muslim groups have called for Doggart to be charged with a hate crime and have protested a magistrate judge's ruling allowing Doggart to be released from jail as he awaits trial, claiming he is a threat to Muslims.

Doggart's lawyer, Bryan Hoss, said his client is not a threat to anyone.

"I certainly think they are free to protest in any manner they choose, but the judge got the law correct in allowing Mr. Doggart to be released," Hoss said.

Prosecutors say Doggart planned to attack a mosque, a school and a cafeteria, and use automatic weapons to kill residents by last April 15. Doggart wrote that Islamberg "must be utterly destroyed" because they were planning a terrorist attack, and he had contacted a militia group, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said he solicited others to join in his plan through Facebook posts and through phone conversations, including one with a cooperating FBI source. Doggart told the person on the phone that weapons such as "AR-15s, M-4s or M-16s" could be used and that he planned to bring his M-4 rifle with four magazines, according to court documents.

Doggart pleaded guilty in April, acknowledging in the agreement that he "willfully and knowingly sent a message in interstate commerce containing a true threat" to injure someone. The plea agreement was later thrown out by Collier, who wrote that it did not contain enough facts to constitute a true threat under the interstate commerce charge.

The government then indicted Doggart on new charge of solicitation to commit a civil rights violation by intending to damage or destroy religious property. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

In early May, Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee ordered Doggart released from federal custody under conditions including home detention, psychiatric treatment and drug testing, refraining from possessing a firearm and posting a $30,000 bond. Prosecutors appealed his release, but lost.

In court documents, Hoss has said Social Security disability records showed Doggart has depression and personality disorder, but is not a danger.

In a June 10 letter, The Muslims of America religious organization criticized the judge's release order, stating that home confinement left Doggart "cared for by the family who provides him love and comfort." Protesters also gathered outside federal court in Chattanooga during Doggart's arraignment in July.

Doggart ran as an independent last year in East Tennessee's District 4 congressional race, finishing with 6 percent of the vote.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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