CINCINNATI (AP) — A former Cincinnati-area bartender who said he believed House Speaker John Boehner was the devil was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday of threatening to kill the Republican lawmaker.
Federal Judge Timothy Black found Michael Hoyt not guilty of a charge of threatening to kill a U.S. official.
Authorities had accused Hoyt of threatening to kill Boehner, either with a gun or by poisoning his drink.
The judge ruled that Hoyt was insane at the time of the offense and ordered him to a federal medical facility for evaluation.
Black scheduled an Aug. 21 hearing to determine whether Hoyt, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is mentally stable enough to be released or could be dangerous to others. Hoyt could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Hoyt sat quietly through the proceedings, responding yes to the judge's questions about whether he understood the court proceedings.
Boehner's office declined to comment on the verdict.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Grimes would not comment after the trial, but said in court that prosecutors accepted the forensic psychologist's report on Hoyt's mental state at the time of the offense.
"We believe this was the right verdict in this type of case," defense attorney Candace Crouse said.
The judge called it a "sad case," noting that mentally ill people may not recognize their illness. Black read from court documents saying Hoyt, of the Cincinnati suburb of Deer Park, had a history of mental illness since he was struck on the head in 2012. Black in April ruled Hoyt competent to stand trial based on a report from the federal medical facility where he was sent for evaluation and treatment after an arrest warrant was issued for him in November 2014.
Hoyt was indicted in January 2015. The criminal complaint filed in November 2014 said he was fired last fall from a suburban country club where Boehner is a member. Hoyt said he began hearing voices after his firing, telling him Boehner was evil, according to court documents cited Monday.
Hoyt was treated for a psychotic episode after his head injury and later stopped taking prescribed medication. Court documents said Hoyt came to authorities' attention when he called 911 on Oct. 29, 2014. Hoyt told the operator: "This is Mike. I messed up." He then asked the operator to call his father and let him know he was OK and was sorry he had made mistakes.
When asked for his location and how to reach his father, Hoyt provided his home address and said his father is "everywhere."
Hoyt later told officers dispatched to his home in the Cincinnati suburb of Deer Park that he had been fired from the country club and "did not have time to put something in John Boehner's drink."
Hoyt told the officer he was Jesus Christ and needed to kill Boehner because Boehner was mean to him and because Boehner was responsible for Ebola. Hoyt also said he had a loaded gun and was going to shoot Boehner, according to the documents.
Boehner is second in line for the presidency in the event of a vacancy.