Accused White House shooter pleads not guilty

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2012 3:03 PM
Accused White House shooter pleads not guilty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Idaho man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama and to other criminal charges for allegedly shooting at the White House in November.

His attorney entered the not guilty plea on behalf of Oscar Ortega-Hernandez to a 17-count indictment that included charges of damaging the White House, illegal use of a firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in California at the time and no one was injured when Ortega-Hernandez allegedly opened fire at the executive mansion with a semi-automatic weapon on November 11. At least two bullets hit the outside of the building.

During a five-minute court hearing, Ortega-Hernandez never addressed the judge. His defense attorney, assistant federal public defender David Bos, said his client would be asserting his right to a speedy trial.

Ortega-Hernandez, 21, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, was arrested and has been held in custody since shortly after the shooting. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson ordered that he remain in custody.

A doctor has determined that Ortega-Hernandez, who has referred to himself as a modern day Jesus Christ and who allegedly has called Obama the devil, was mentally competent to stand trial.

The next hearing in the case was scheduled for February 10.

(Reporting By James Vicini)