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US judge recommends overturning California terror conviction

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal magistrate has recommended overturning the controversial conviction of a California man accused of attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and plotting an attack in the United States.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes said Friday that Hamid Hayat, a young cherry picker from Lodi, likely never would have been convicted were it not for the inexperience of his defense attorney.

Her recommendation that the conviction be vacated now goes to the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

Hayat, who is now 36-years-old, was convicted in 2006 and has served about half his 24-year sentence.

Investigators initially claimed five men were part of an al-Qaida “sleeper cell” in the agricultural community south of Sacramento.

But only Hayat was convicted of terror-related crimes.