July 13, 2015 / 9:00 PM / 4 years ago

Man accused of threatening U.S. House speaker found not guilty

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - A former bartender from Ohio accused of threatening to kill U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in October 2014 was found not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday by a federal judge.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about an Iran nuclear deal during his weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 9, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Michael Hoyt, 44, was indicted in January on the charge of threatening to kill a U.S. official, and he chose to allow his guilt or innocence to be determined by U.S. District Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati, rather than a jury.

Black, who in April had ruled Hoyt competent to stand trial, scheduled another court appearance for Aug. 21 to determine whether Hoyt should remain hospitalized. The judge has ordered further evaluation of Hoyt between now and the next hearing.

“I believe he made the correct decision,” lawyer Martin Pinales, who represents Hoyt, said in a telephone interview.

Prosecutors accused Hoyt of wanting to poison Boehner and threatening to shoot the Republican lawmaker who represents a district north of Cincinnati. He pleaded not guilty and his attorneys pursued an insanity defense.

According to a joint statement of facts agreed to by prosecutors and Hoyt’s attorneys, Hoyt dialed 911 in October 2014, gave his name and address and asked the operator to tell his father he was OK and sorry.

Hoyt told an officer who went to his home he had been fired from a West Chester, Ohio, country club where Boehner is a member, that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was going to kill Boehner because the speaker had been mean to him at the club and was responsible for Ebola.

Hoyt told police he owned a handgun and had money and “he was going to shoot Boehner and take off,” the court papers said. Hoyt allowed an officer to retrieve his handgun from his house and volunteered to be taken to a hospital for evaluation.

After police signed him into the hospital for a 72-hour hold, Hoyt became angry a hospital security officer would not write his name as Jesus Christ, the court papers said.

Hoyt told FBI agents while at the hospital that he believed Boehner was the devil. He also told the agents that after he was fired from the club, he began hearing the devil’s voice over his car stereo and home radio and the voices were telling him Boehner was evil, according to the court papers.

Reporting by Ginny McCabe; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney

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