Judge Thomas Farber, who is to preside at Jose Pimentel's trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, the trial-level court in New York, said he did not want the proceedings to become a "referendum on terrorism" in a city where the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are still fresh in residents' memories, the New York Times reported.
Farber told lawyers at a pretrial conference Wednesday he hopes to focus the proceedings on evidence that Pimentel actually built bombs.
"I don't want the jury's attention diverted," Farber said.
Pimentel, originally from the Dominican Republic, converted to Islam, using the name Muhammad Yusuf. He ran a website that advocated violent action, but investigators say he was not working for anyone else, and Michael Bloomberg, at the time mayor of New York, called him a "lone wolf" when he was arrested.
Pimentel allegedly built a pipe bomb and started work on two more, operating in an informant's apartment. Federal authorities declined to prosecute him, leaving the job to the state.
His lawyers say the informant convinced him to start building bombs after giving him food and marijuana over several months. Pimentel's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 24.