Friend of San Bernadino killer faces gun and terror charges
Published 31/12/2015 | 02:56
A friend of one of the San Bernardino killers who murdered 14 people is facing charges including conspiring in previous planned terror attacks and making false statements when he bought the guns used in the California massacre.
The indictment by a federal grand jury avoids the need for a probable cause hearing before a judge to determine whether Enrique Marquez, 24, should stand trial on the five counts that could send him to prison for 50 years if he is convicted.
The counts include conspiring with gunman Syed Farook to carry out attacks in 2011 and 2012. Prosecutors said in court documents that Marquez and Farook planned to use pipe bombs and guns to kill people at the college they attended and to gun down others stuck in rush-hour traffic on a California freeway. But the plots fizzled out and they never acted.
Two more charges say Marquez declared in paperwork that two assault rifles he later gave to Farook were for himself only or his immediate family.
"Mr Marquez is charged for his role in a conspiracy several years ago to target innocent civilians in our own back yard with cold-blooded terror attacks, and with providing weapons to an individual whose end game was murder," David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, said.
Two other counts accuse Marquez of immigration fraud for a sham marriage with a Russian woman who was the sister of Farook's wife Tashfeen Malik.
Marquez had already been charged with the crimes in a criminal complaint filed on December 17 before the charges were taken to the grand jury. He has not entered a plea but is expected to do so in an arraignment on January 6. He is being held in custody.
In a bail hearing on December 21, Marquez's lawyer argued that he should be credited for spending 10 days voluntarily talking to the FBI and pointed out that he was not charged with plotting the San Bernardino killings, only with aborted attacks.
Farook and Malik opened fire on a conference room full of Farook's co-workers at a social services centre on December 2, killing 14 people and injuring 22 others. The couple were killed in a gun battle with authorities hours later.