COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The movie "The Hurt Locker," police raids of the Occupy Miami movement, Molotov cocktails, and drinking and smoking marijuana were just a few of the topics jurors were privy to while listening to hours of secret recordings in the NATO 3 terrorism case Wednesday.
Three men known as the NATO 3, accused of plotting to wreak havoc at the 2012 summit in Chicago, were little more than "goofs" who talked tough, their defense attorneys said.
Prosecutors allege that the three came from Florida with plans to do more than protest peacefully while dignitaries and notables from around the world gathered in Chicago.
Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly are charged under a little-known state terrorism law for their alleged roles in a plot to incite chaos by attacking strategic spots with homemade explosives.
The men allegedly made Molotov cocktails and talked about attacking President Barack Obama's re-election campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building near Millennium Park, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home and other targets, according to court records.
Undercover Chicago police officers Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun got the go-ahead to secretly record the conversations they were having with the NATO 3 defendants, and wore a wire for the first time on May 4, 2012.
Chikko was known as "Gloves," while Uygun called himself "Mo."
Recorded conversations between Church, Chase and the two undercover officers were varied. One minute they'd be discussing using a potato launcher to break the windows of Obama’s campaign headquarters and protest tactics. The next minute, talk would shift to partying on the South Side for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the video game "Grand Theft Auto."
The conversations often oscillated between the mundane and the malicious.
They talked about sabotaging the city's red light cameras and how "regular Occupy folks" all "la la la kumbaya" couldn't always be trusted "not to snitch."
At one point, Chase tells the group, his closest confidants at the time, about a May Day protest when he hit a cop and ran, and about his experience traveling to protests in Boston, Providence, Charlotte and Miami.
While talking strategy about Obama's headquarters — plans that were never put into action — Church says they should use a slingshot to bust the windows rather than the bow and arrow he allegedly brought in a guitar case from his home in Fort Lauderdale.
At another point, Chase can be heard talking about Molotov cocktails, saying "you cover them in a f------ ball of fire."
After more than two hours listening to the recordings, jurors still haven't heard from NATO 3 defendant Betterly.
Church and Chase told the officers about life in the Bridgeport apartment where they were staying at the time of their arrest. It had no television for about 15 occupants, and people got bored there. Based on their description, Gloves said the Bridgeport apartment sounded like a "broke-ass frat."
In turn, the two officers shared personal information from their fabricated private lives: One's girlfriend is always mad at her, and the other's stepdad is a jerk.
Numerous times, the officers try to bring the conversation back to NATO and how the four of them are going to disrupt the summit.
Defense attorneys representing Church, Betterly and Chase have argued that the three never would have done anything besides talk if it weren't for two undercover cops egging them on.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Chikko was still on the stand answering questions from prosecutors as they played recording after recording. According to the state's attorney, the undercover officers captured 55 "relevant conversations" with the NATO 3 defendants.
Chikko is expected to retake the stand Thursday morning when the trial continues.