In the months before he fired rifle shots at the White House, an Idaho man who hates President Obama let his hair and beard grow long so that he would look like Jesus Christ and warned of a government plot to install global positioning system devices in people’s bodies, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.
Those new tidbits of information came in a motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeking a judicial order that Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez undergo a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation.
Lawyers for the 21-year-old defendant have opposed such an exam, arguing that there is no legal basis for a judge to order it.
Ortega-Hernandez fired a volley of shots at the White House with a semiautomatic rifle from about 750 yards away on the night of Nov. 11 because he wanted to kill Obama, according to an FBI criminal complaint. Several of the bullets struck the exterior of the residential floors on the mansion’s south side, authorities said.
Even though Obama was out of the town at the time, Ortega-Hernandez, who has described himself as the second coming of Jesus, is charged with attempted assassination.
The criminal complaint, made public after Ortega-Hernandez’s arrest last month, cited several examples of his alleged bizarre behavior over the last year or so, as described by acquaintances in Idaho. In the motion filed Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office in the District expanded on his behavior, offering a few more specifics.
“Several witnesses have explained that the defendant grew his hair and beard long to more closely resemble the image of Jesus Christ,” prosecutors said. “Witnesses have also stated that the defendant told them that the federal government was intending to implant. . .GPS chips inside the bodies of U.S. citizens in order to track them.”
Elizabeth Teegarden, a clinical psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital, interviewed Ortega-Hernandez for 50 minutes on Nov. 22 in a cell block at U.S. District Court, concluding that the defendant was mentally competent to take part in legal proceedings.
Ortega-Hernandez’s “discussion of world events did not appear to be influenced by delusional ideation,” Teegarden reported in a letter to Magistrate Judge Alan Kay. During the interview, she saw “no overt evidence of, and he denied, phobias, bizarre thought content or suicidal/homicidal ideation or intent.”
Ortega-Hernandez “emphatically denied past mental health treatment or previous or current psychiatric symptoms,” she wrote.
However, prosecutors said Teegarden was unaware of a wealth of evidence gathered by investigators, including many instances of strange behaviors and statements, suggesting that Ortega-Hernandez suffers from severe mental problems.
“It should be noted that the government is not claiming that Dr. Teegarden’s competency conclusion is inaccurate based on present information, but rather that a more thorough, comprehensive, in-patient psychological examination is consistent with the federal statute and the prudent course in this case,” prosecutors wrote.
A judge will decide whether to order an in-depth psychiatric evaluation after a hearing set for Wednesday in U.S. District Court. Attempting to assassinate the president is punishable by up to life in prison.