Citing religious views, an accused bank robber known as “The Man in Black” asked a federal judge this week to postpone hearings until the end of Ramadan, a monthlong Muslim observance.
Mark Edward Wetsch was charged with holding up 13 Minnesota banks between March 2011 and January 2012. The robber earned his moniker by wearing all black during the heists, in which he made off with about $69,000.
Wetsch was scheduled to have a motion hearing Friday, July 20, in U.S. District Court in St. Paul but asked the judge to continue the hearing so he could observe the holy month of Ramadan, a period of daylight fasting, prayer and reflection. Ramadan began Friday and lasts 30 days.
After Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham denied his initial request for a continuance, Wetsch argued that his meal and prayer requirements can be accommodated, but there are other elements of Ramadan to be observed as well.
“Mr. Wetsch describes two tenets that must also be adhered to during Ramadan: The faith calls for not engaging in conflict and argument; and to work to reconcile differences and seek peace,” said Wetsch’s motion, filed Thursday. “Clearly, a contested hearing in which the government is making allegations against Mr. Wetsch and he is fighting against causes him to engage in conflict and argument.”
Graham approved his renewed request. His next hearing has not yet been scheduled.
When did Wetsch find Islam?