URBANA — Domestic terrorism suspect Michael B. Hari no longer wants to be tried first in his home state of Illinois, telling the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Urbana on Thursday that he instead wants to be tried first in federal court in Minnesota.
Hari made the request to Sara Darrow, the chief federal judge of the Central District of Illinois, as he appeared by telephone with one of his federal public defenders for a status conference.
Court records show federal prosecutors Eugene Miller and Tim Bass did not object, and another status conference in the Illinois case was set for 10 a.m. Nov. 15.
Hari’s request represented a surprising twist considering he and his attorneys for months had been insisting the 48-year-old Clarence man’s jury trial in Urbana be held prior to his trial in Minnesota.
Prosecutors, who had wanted Hari tried first in Minnesota, ended up satisfying Hari’s request last month, when they asked for his trial in Urbana to be set for Sept. 17 — prior to his Sept. 30 trial in Minnesota — and a judge agreed to do so.
Prosecutors also agreed to Hari’s requested transfer from Minnesota to Illinois.
Hari, a former Ford County sheriff’s deputy, was one of four Clarence men — all believed to be members of a homegrown domestic terrorism group known as the “White Rabbits” — who are charged in federal court in both Illinois and Minnesota in connection with alleged acts of terrorism, including the August 2017 firebombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., and the attempted firebombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign in November 2017.
Hari’s codefendants — Michael McWhorter, 30, Joe Morris, 23, and Ellis “E.J.” Mack, 19 — have pleaded guilty to various counts and are awaiting sentencing.