Richard Reid, a British citizen, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for the incident aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22, 2001. He faces 60 years to life in
Late Wednesday, defense lawyers asked U.S. District Judge William Young to postpone sentencing on seven of the eight charges until Reid is given access to classified information they say could help him.
“To a certain extent, it’s a fishing expedition,” said CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. “What they’re saying to the judge essentially is, ‘look, we’re not getting all the information that may be relevant, and until we see that information, we won’t know how best to argue on behalf of our client for the lightest sentence possible.”
Young was not expected to rule on the request until Thursday. The judge earlier turned down Reid's request to declassify certain unspecified documents after prosecutors expressed concern that he might somehow use the information to send coded messages to other
When Reid pleaded guilty in October, he said he was a member of al-Qaida and pledged his support to Osama bin Laden. He also declared himself an enemy of the United States.
Reid was overpowered by passengers and crew members after they saw him attempting to light a fuse protruding from one of his shoes. The flight was diverted to Boston. Prosecutors said the
explosives could have destroyed the jet carrying 197 people.
Neither prosecutors nor Reid's lawyers would reveal details about the classified documents. But defense attorney Owen Walker has argued the documents could help explain Reid's motivation and give his family some peace of mind.
Walker asked that Reid be allowed to present the documents publicly at his sentencing hearing.
"The world hears the bad information ... but they don't hear the other side," Walker said.
Reid's lawyers have asked that he receive the mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years on the charge of using a destructive device during a crime of violence. But they want to postpone sentencing on the remaining charges, which include attempted murder and attempted
use of a weapon of mass destruction.