Judge rejects Hillside man’s request to take back guilty plea in 2012 bombing case

Adel Daoud allegedly tried to set off an inert bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar. He entered a guilty plea in 2018.

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A judge granted Adel Daoud’s request to dismiss his attorney, but the judge called it a “colossally stupid idea.”

AP file

A federal judge Tuesday denied a request by a Hillside man who U.S. authorities say tried to set off a 1,000-pound car bomb in the Loop to take back the guilty plea he entered in 2018 and go to trial.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly said in a hearing at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse that the record was clear in showing that Adel Daoud, 29, consulted extensively with his lawyers at the time before making the guilty, adding that Daoud “assessed the evidence, including burden of trial and made a fully knowledgeable decision.”

Kennelly also said there was no indication that Daoud was misled or coerced into entering a guilty plea, and that Daoud “changing his mind” about that decision was not a legally viable reason to grant his motion to withdraw the plea.

Daoud’s attorney, Quinn Michaelis, had argued in the motion filed in October that Daoud had “several legitimate defenses amounting to legal innocence which he abandoned at the last minute,” based on his previous attorney’s concerns about Daoud’s mental health.

However, Kennelly did grant Daoud’s request to dismiss his attorney Tuesday and represent himself in his case, but only after strongly suggesting Daoud reconsider, calling it a “colossally stupid idea.” Daoud told the judge he didn’t trust any lawyers and could do a better job himself.

“It’s your life,” Kennelly said.

Daoud’s case has been prolonged since his arrest at the age of 18 in September 2012 at the end of a monthslong FBI investigation. It culminated with an undercover FBI agent providing him with an inert bomb installed in a Jeep that reeked of gasoline and was filled with wiring and “bags and bags of fertilizer.”

Authorities arrested Daoud after he allegedly tried to set off the bomb outside the Cactus Bar & Grill.

Afterward, Daoud allegedly enlisted a fellow jail inmate in an attempt to have the undercover agent killed. Then, in 2015, Daoud allegedly attacked another inmate who had taunted him with a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. The attack left the inmate covered in blood.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in 2018 accepted a specialized guilty plea from Daoud, in which he admitted the facts revolving around his arrest but still denied culpability. It’s known as an Alford plea, and the judge accepted it over the objection of prosecutors.

Then, the judge sentenced Daoud in 2019 to 16 years in prison. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not only wound up overturning that sentence, it took Daoud’s case away from Coleman.

Daoud is being held in Chicago’s downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center. A new sentencing hearing is expected to take place Feb. 21.

Contributing: Jon Seidel

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