U.S. News

Ohio man accused of plotting government attack can stand trial: judge

Christopher Cornell, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio is pictured in this handout photo obtained by Reuters January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Butler County Jail/Handout via Reuters

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday made a preliminary finding that an Ohio man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs was competent to stand trial.

Judge Sandra Beckwith in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati said she will review evidence presented by prosecutors and defense and is expected to issue a final ruling in a written opinion in the case of Christopher Cornell from Green Township outside Cincinnati.

Cornell, 22, was arrested in January 2015 and accused of plotting an attack using pipe bombs and bullets. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group, attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and solicitation to commit a violent crime.

Cornell is being held without bond and faces up to life in prison if convicted. A trial date has not been set. He appeared in court on Monday with his head and face shaven, but did not speak publicly.

Last November, Beckwith ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Cornell after his attorneys questioned his mental health.

Cornell researched the construction of pipe bombs, purchased a semi-automatic rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition and made plans to travel to Washington to carry out the plot, according to the original indictment.

Reporting by Ginny McCabe, Editing by Ben Klayman and Bernard Orr