Judge rules US Capitol plot suspect competent to stand trial

April 19, 2016

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a suburban Cincinnati man is competent to stand trial on charges that he plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of the Islamic State group.

"The court finds that a preponderance of the evidence supports that conclusion," U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith wrote.

She noted in her order that a psychologist for the defense testified in a Monday hearing that Christopher Lee Cornell, 22, is currently able to participate in his defense. The psychologist had filed an evaluation last year concluding Cornell couldn't properly assist his defense, but has modified his opinion, Beckwith wrote.

Psychologist Scot Bresler, of the University of Cincinnati, who has met repeatedly with Cornell, said for the first time Sunday he asked to be called "Chris" instead of Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, which he had adopted as his Muslim name. The long hair and beard Cornell had when arrested in January 2015 have been cut off.

The psychologist testified Cornell has anxiety and personality disorders and can be deeply depressed, and urged he be re-evaluated before trial because his competency could change.

Prosecutors filed a report by another psychologist concluding Cornell is competent, and also filed exhibits including letters from Cornell the government said show he understands the charges against him and can help his attorneys.

Cornell, held without bond, 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."

His attorneys could still pursue an insanity defense.


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