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Prosecutors offer plea bargain in Family Research Council shooting

By Paul Courson, CNN
updated 10:37 AM EST, Tue December 4, 2012
Floyd Lee Corkins was arrested for allegedly opening fire at the Family Research Council's Washington headquarters.
Floyd Lee Corkins was arrested for allegedly opening fire at the Family Research Council's Washington headquarters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A plea deal would avoid a trial, but the defense attorney says he has concerns
  • Floyd Corkins stands indicted in August shooting at the Family Research Council
  • The terrorism charge he faces has never been prosecuted before

Washington (CNN) -- Prosecutors are offering a plea bargain to Floyd Corkins, the man accused in the August shooting of a building manager at the conservative Family Research Council. But a defense attorney declined at a hearing Monday to immediately accept the deal and was granted a continuance in the case.

The proposal includes admitting guilt to three of 10 counts in a federal indictment, including a charge of Committing an Act of Terrorism, which has never been prosecuted in the 10 years since the law was passed by the District of Columbia.

Public defender David Bos said in open court he had some concerns and asked for a delay in the case.

Corkins has been held since the August 15 wounding of Leonardo Reno Johnson, who survived the attack that took place in the ground floor lobby of the Family Research Council's headquarters.

New charges in shooting

"I don't like your politics," Corkins allegedly told the worker, according to an FBI document filed in the case.

The FBI affidavit helped provide the basis for an indictment, and describes surveillance video taken in the lobby. A man authorities identified as Corkins pulled a 9 mm handgun from a backpack, had words with Johnson, and began shooting. Authorities found additional ammunition in the backpack, along with 15 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A.

FBI Special Agent Garrett Nabors, in writing the report filed the day after the shooting, noted that a senior executive of the fast food chain "recently announced publicly his opposition to same-sex marriage," and that the "Family Research Council is a Christian conservative policy organization which supports traditional marriage."

The affidavit quotes Corkins' parents as saying he has "strong opinions" about people "he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."

Corkins was not at Monday's status hearing and may not yet have been told about the plea bargain offer from prosecutors.

"No formal plea offer has been extended," Bos told the judge at the start of the proceeding, "but we are expecting one very shortly that could resolve this matter short of trial."

He added, however, that he had concerns.

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts, noting an informal version of the offer had been e-mailed Monday morning, granted a delay until Thursday so that Bos could talk with Corkins about it "and come back with an intelligent response."

Federal prosecutor Patrick Martin then outlined the proposal in open court, saying Corkins would enter a guilty plea on "counts one, two and four" in exchange for prosecutors dropping the other seven counts in the indictment.

Count one is interstate transportation of a firearm; Corkins is accused of bringing a weapon from Virginia into the District of Columbia. Count two is assault with intent to kill while armed.

Count four, the terrorism charge, accuses Corkins, by carrying out the shooting, of having "an intent to intimidate and coerce a significant portion of the civilian population of the District of Columbia and the United States."

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