Prosecutors in the case of an Idaho man accused of firing rifle shots at the White House asked a judge to order a more extensive psychiatric evaluation before ruling on whether he is mentally competent to participate in court proceedings.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, who has described himself as the second coming of Jesus, is charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama. He is accused of firing multiple shots at the executive mansion on the night of Nov. 11.
Prosecutors allege that he intended to kill Obama even though the effort had no chance of succeeding. The president and first lady, Michelle Obama, were in San Diego at the time of the gunfire.
In U.S. District Court on Monday, prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Alan Kay that a psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the District who recently evaluated Ortega-Hernandez found him mentally competent.
“Although the government does not dispute that conclusion, the government notes that it was based only on a 50-minute screening,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a written motion.
A more extensive evaluation “is warranted, given the serious nature of the criminal charges . . . and the likelihood that mental health issues may arise in the course of these proceedings,” the motion said.
Ortega-Hernandez appeared briefly before Kay on Monday for a preliminary hearing. But Kay postponed the hearing until Dec. 12. He will rule on the request for a further mental evaluation after Ortega-Hernandez’s attorneys respond to the motion.
Ortega-Hernandez is accused of firing a volley of shots at the White House with a semiautomatic rifle from about 750 yards away. The FBI said some of the rounds struck the exterior of the upper floors of the White House — the residential area. One bullet pierced a window but was stopped by ballistic glass behind it, the FBI said.
Attempting to assassinate the president is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction. A man who fired shots at the White House in 1994 was convicted of attempting to kill President Bill Clinton and was sentenced to 40 years behind bars.
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