The Arizona man who sold ammunition to the Las Vegas shooter doesn’t want a jury trial, according to court records. Instead, fearing bias, he has asked to be tried by a judge.
But a federal magistrate judge in Nevada is recommending that U.S. District Judge James Mahan deny the request.
“Though the trial will present challenges, the trial judge will ensure the Defendant an impartial trial,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach wrote in a report to Mahan.
Douglas Haig is concerned that his connection to the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting will have a “prejudicial effect”on jurors, according to a recent court filing. He is accused of selling reloaded rounds to the Las Vegas gunman ahead of the Oct. 1, 2017, attack, and he faces one count of manufacturing weapons without a license.
“Unlike a judge, jurors may simply be unable to set aside their passion and prejudice to render a fair and impartial verdict in this case,” Haig’s attorney wrote.
Haig twice has tried to change the circumstances of his court case because of bias concerns.
First, he asked to be tried in Arizona instead of Nevada, arguing that the mass shooting happened in Las Vegas and would make it hard to find an impartial jury. The court denied his request.
Then, he asked that government prosecutors not be allowed to mention the Route 91 attack. The court excluded some evidence pertaining to Route 91 but noted that procedural safeguards, including jury instructions, would help “minimize the risk of prejudice.”
Haig also asked that his case be dismissed, arguing that the statute he is accused of violating is “unconstitutionally vague.” The court denied his motion.
Two days later, Haig asked to waive his right to a jury trial. Mahan, the trial judge, has not made a decision on that request.
In the meantime, Haig on Monday also asked that the court hold a hearing to determine the admissibility of toolmark evidence, which prosecutors intend to present in reference to any reloaded rounds. He cited a 2009 finding that the toolmark and firearms identification field suffers from certain “limitations.”
Neither prosecutors nor a judge have responded to that request.
The Route 91 attack killed 58 concertgoers and injured hundreds more. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the crowd from a Mandalay Bay suite across the street before fatally shooting himself.
Inside the suite, investigators found ammunition that Haig sold to Paddock loaded into five rifles and one magazine. They also found it inside an Amazon shipping box that listed Haig’s address.
Federal investigators interviewed Haig shortly after the attack, and prosecutors later charged him in connection with the sales. A trial is set to start in August in Las Vegas.