Ohio man accused of plotting government attack must take psychiatric test

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 2:15 PM

By Ginny McCabe

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - An Ohio man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs must undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he can stand trial, a federal judge in Cincinnati ruled on Tuesday.

Christopher Cornell, who did not appear in the U.S. District Court for the status hearing, was arrested in January and accused of plotting an attack using pipe bombs and bullets.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith said the evaluation of Cornell, 21, will be done at a federal medical center that was not identified.

Cornell has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group, attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and solicitation to commit a violent crime.

Cornell’s attorneys filed court documents last week questioning his competency to stand trial. They said they had evidence including medical records and accounts from family that would support the filing.

Beckwith ruled last week that Cornell's lawyers can file a competency report under seal to keep his medical records and personal information private.

On Tuesday, Cornell's attorney, Martin Pinales, said it was too soon to say whether Cornell would plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors allege that Cornell researched the construction of pipe bombs, purchased a semi-automatic rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition and made plans to travel to Washington to carry out the plot, according to the original indictment.

In March, prosecutors asked a judge to limit Cornell's phone access in jail after he gave an interview to Cincinnati's FOX 19 WXIX TV in which he said he wanted to shoot President Barack Obama in the head.

Cornell, who prefers to be called by his Muslim name, Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, is being held without bond.

The judge set the next hearing in the case for April 4. A trial date has not been set.

Cornell faces up to 65 years behind bars if convicted on all charges, Pinales said.

Pinales and Cornell's other attorney, Candace Crouse, also represent another Cincinnati-area man, Michael Hoyt, who was accused earlier this year of threatening to kill former House Speaker John Boehner. Hoyt was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity and a federal court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 24 to assess his mental stability.

(Editing by Ben Klayman and Matthew Lewis)