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Trial delayed a year for Coeur d’Alene teen with ISIS ties

Staff Writer | May 14, 2024 12:26 PM

COEUR d’ALENE — The 18-year-old Coeur d’Alene resident accused of planning to attack local churches on behalf of ISIS is expected to stand trial next May.

Alexander S. Mercurio pleaded not guilty in federal court last month to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terror organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and up to a lifetime of supervised release.

Federal authorities arrested Mercurio in April, the day before prosecutors believe he planned to attack people attending a church near his home in Coeur d’Alene. He allegedly planned to incapacitate people by beating them with a metal pipe, “slit their throats with a knife or a machete” and then start fires inside the church.

Mercurio allegedly told confidential sources he planned to “carry out a martyrdom operation” in Coeur d’Alene on April 7, according to court records. Just before doing so, he said he wanted to donate “every last cent” in his bank to ISIS, a sum of around $11,000.

A jury trial was originally scheduled to begin May 28, with proceedings to remain in Coeur d’Alene. But the trial has been continued to May 5, 2025, at the order of Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye.

Defendants have a right to a speedy trial. However, unusual or complex cases may be continued when their complexity makes it unreasonable to prepare for trial within narrow time frames.

“Given the number of documents, the nature of evidence collected, to include evidence in a foreign language and the multiple issues involved in the discovery process, the government requests and the defendant agrees that the case be declared complex,” federal prosecutors said in a motion.

Nye granted the request, noting that the “volume of documents and evidence collected in this case is substantial” and that some of the evidence will likely implicate the Classified Information Procedures Act, meaning various procedural strictures must be followed ahead of any disclosure.

Mercurio waived his right to a detention hearing last month. He will remain in custody at the Kootenai County jail while the case is pending.