WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a hearing to assess the mental capacity of a man arrested last month after allegedly firing shots at the White House in an attempt to assassinate President Barack Obama.
The hearing, scheduled for Friday in Washington, will examine new evidence on the psychological health of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, to ensure that he can be held legally liable for his alleged actions.
The US said it was reticent to rely solely on the finding of a 50-minute screening which said after examining the defendant that he was fit to stand trial.
“There are issues the government is aware of that were not addressed in the 50-minute screening,” said US Assistant Attorney George Varghese.
“The point is to highlight things which are not in the evaluation. There is evidence (showing) he may be incompetent,” he said.
The prosecution request prompted bristling on the part of Ortega-Hernandez’s attorneys.
“The government is trying to stick its nose into the defense camp,” said his attorney David Bos, who insisted that Ortega-Hernandez was lucid and has “absolutely no problem with understanding.”
His attorneys added that Ortega-Hernandez “has not exhibited any irrational behavior during the course of these proceedings,” and said any suggestion that he might be mentally unfit “is based solely on alleged, undated, out of court statements of an unknown number of unnamed witnesses who have not been subjected to cross examination.”
According to the prosecution petition seen by AFP, other indications that the defendant may not be of sound mind, is that he has referred to President Obama as the “devil” or “the anti-Christ.”
It also described behavior which sounded paranoid and erratic.
“The defendant is convinced that the federal government is conspiring against him. Witnesses have also stated that the defendant told them that the federal government was intending to implant global positioning system (GPS) chips inside the bodies of US citizens in order to track them,” the court filing said.
It added that Ortega-Hernandez has referred to himself as “the modern-day Jesus Christ” or “the modern-day God,” claims to have heard “voices from God” and “grew his hair and beard long to more closely resemble the image of Jesus Christ,” the petition said.
Ortega-Hernandez was arrested one month ago in near Pennsylvania’s border with Indiana, some 300 miles from the US capital. He is accused of taking several shots in the direction of the residential area of the White House. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Neither President Obama nor members of the first family were home at the time of the shooting.