Miami-Dade County

Man accused as ISIS sympathizer writes his own plea to judge

Harlem Suárez
Harlem Suárez

In an unusual twist in the case of a young man accused of showing sympathy for the terror group ISIS, he took it upon himself to write a motion in longhand and submitted it to the judge asking him to dismiss the case.

The motion by Harlem Suárez, 24, was apparently based on his own research in the library of the detention center where he has been held since he was arrested last year. U.S. District Judge José Martínez, who is in charge of the case, rejected the motion, citing local court rules that allow such motions only from the attorney representing the defendant.

Suárez is accused of sympathies for the Islamic State while plotting to set off a backpack bomb on a beach in Key West.

His motion was a surprise because only on May 11 his attorney, Richard Francis Della Fera, had told Martínez during a status conference in court that he was ready for the trial scheduled to begin July 11 in Key West.

Until now, Suárez, whose family brought him from Cuba in 2004, had been largely silent during his sporadic appearances in court after his arrest last July 27.

Della Fera has previously said that his client is a young man who was easily impressed by news about the Islamic State on television and the internet.

Written in English with sketchy grammar, Suárez's motion makes a clear pleading: "Comes now defendant here by and respectfully moves the court for an order to dismiss the charges."

The reason, the motion says, is because of "insufficiency of evidence to sustain a conviction."