Walter Mencken 9:23 a.m., Oct. 10
Arms Trial of Coronado-Based SEAL Opens in Las Vegas
Opening arguments in the arms smuggling trial of Coronado-based Navy SEAL Nicholas Bickle began Monday in a Las Vegas federal courtroom, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has reported.
"Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Smith said the government 'brick by brick' would 'build a wall of evidence' against the San Diego-based SEAL accused of smuggling machine guns, other weapons and explosives into the country from the Middle East for his own profit," according to the paper's account.
"But Bickle's San Diego defense lawyer, James Pokorny, told the jury that the government's chief witnesses, not Bickle, will emerge during the trial as the real bad guys in the arms smuggling scheme.
"'This is a case about lies, drug use and hidden agendas,' Pokorny said. 'The facts that you are going to hear in this case will cause you to be filled with doubt.'"
Bickle, a petty officer 1st class stationed at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, stands accused of smuggling and selling more than 70 firearms intended for use by the Iraqi army.
The Review-Journal went on report that Bickel is being permitted to wear his medal-clad uniform bearing the words "SEAL Team Five" in court.
"After the trial recessed for the day, Bickle changed into jeans and a white T-shirt before leaving the federal courthouse with his parents. He was carrying the uniform and later used it to shield his face from a news photographer."
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