CINCINNATI (AP) – A federal judge Tuesday set a competency hearing for an Ohio man charged with plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of the Islamic State group.
U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith in November ordered a mental evaluation of 21-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell to determine whether he is competent to stand trial after his attorneys said there was “reasonable cause” to question whether he suffers from a mental disease or defect.
She scheduled the hearing for April 18.
Federal authorities and Cornell’s attorneys have filed reports on his mental state. Defense attorney Martin Pinales said the reports were filed under seal, so he couldn’t discuss them. He said the judge will also hear testimony and arguments in the hearing in Cincinnati.
“We will be ready,” he said.
Cornell has been held without bond since his January 2015 arrest in a gun shop parking lot west of Cincinnati. The FBI said he had just bought two M-15 assault weapons and ammunition and planned to attack the Capitol with pipe bombs and guns.READ MORE: Year after arrest, no Ohio trial set in Capitol plot case
Court records show he was taken to a federal facility in Chicago in late November to be evaluated. He has been held in the Butler County, Ohio, and Boone County, Kentucky, jails because there is no federal prison in the Cincinnati area. Court documents filed Tuesday show that federal authorities want to move him from Boone County to “a more controlled facility” suitable for high security risk inmates, such as in Chicago or New York.
His Cincinnati-based attorneys objected, saying they need to be able to meet with him regularly.
The judge asked a federal marshal to meet with the Bureau of Prisons to determine what facility would be appropriate.
Cornell has pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees. His father has said he was misled and coerced by “a snitch.”
Cornell’s arrest came amid increased concern over Islamic State militant efforts to recruit homegrown “lone wolf” terrorists. The FBI has said Cornell, of Green Township, wanted to “wage jihad” and sent messages on social media and posted video in support of Islamic State group militants and violent attacks by others.
Cornell, who goes by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, told WXIX-TV of Cincinnati after his arrest that he wanted to shoot President Barack Obama in the head.