Ohio man linked to Islamic State appeals sentence in U.S. Capitol plot

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2016 2:58 PM

By Ginny McCabe

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - An Ohio man has appealed his sentence of 30 years imprisonment for plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol in Washington with guns and bombs in sympathy with Islamic State militants, court documents showed.

The appeal was filed on Tuesday by lawyers for Christopher Lee Cornell the day after he was sentenced by a federal judge. The lawyers also filed a motion to withdraw as Cornell's counsel, saying it was in the best interest of Cornell to have new lawyers appointed.

Cornell, 22, of Green Township, near Cincinnati, was arrested in January 2015 and accused of planning to travel to Washington to attack the U.S. Capitol during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

There is no timeline for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to issue a decision, but court officials said this generally happens rather quickly. The appeals court also would rule on Cornell's attorneys' motion to withdraw.

Cornell's attorneys Martin Pinales and Candace Crouse could not immediately be reached for comment. On Monday, Pinales said outside the courthouse that he would not file an appeal.

Cornell is one of several people arrested in the United States over the past two years with allegations they planned to join or help Islamic State, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria and has sympathizers and recruits around the world who have carried out shootings and bombings of civilians.

In sentencing Cornell, U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith also ordered a lifetime of supervision for Cornell after prison, calling his plan "horrific."

Cornell remained defiant despite his guilty plea in August and long sentence.

"Allah is in control, not this judge," Cornell said as he left the court, adding, "Don't trust the court system, it's rigged."

Cornell pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Prosecutors said Cornell possessed two semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition. The sentence should serve as a deterrent for anyone looking to follow Cornell's lead, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said.

After his arrest, he posted statements online that included a call for others to join him in violent jihad against the United States on behalf of Islamic State, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Ginny McCabe; editing by Grant McCool)