One doctor says Oscar Ortega-Hernandez is competent to stand trial
Ortega was arrested November 16 and is accused of firing shots at the White House
Witness in criminal complaint: Ortega believed Obama was "the devil"
A doctor who examined the young Idaho man accused of attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama says the suspect is mentally competent to stand trial, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Monday.
But the prosecutors called for more extensive testing of Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, and a competency hearing was scheduled for December 12.
The doctor’s report was not made public, but the conclusion was revealed in a court document. Prosecutors said they did not dispute the findings made by Dr. Elizabeth Teegarden, a clinical psychologist, but said they were based on “only a 50-minute screening.”
The government filing called for a full mental exam “given the serious nature of the criminal charges pending against the defendant and the likelihood that mental health issues may arise in the course of these proceedings.”
The federal public defenders representing Ortega, as he refers to himself, did not comment on the preliminary findings and asked for more time to read and consider the government’s proposal for more mental testing of their client.
Ortega, 21, appeared briefly at a preliminary hearing Monday to discuss the probable cause evidence against him. His attorneys asked for a two-week continuance in light of the prosecutors’ call for a competency hearing and more testing. He will continue to be held without bail and has not yet entered a plea.
The accused was wearing a jail jumpsuit, and his legs were shackled throughout the hearing. His handcuffs were removed as he sat down and read a document shown to him by one of his public defenders.
Ortega spoke only when Magistrate Judge Alan Kay asked him if he agreed with his attorneys’ request for the two-week delay in court proceedings and whether he had discussed it with his defense team. In a quiet but clear voice Ortega responded, “yes, sir” to the first question and then “yes, I have” to the follow-up.
Ortega was arrested November 16 in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement investigators had been looking for him since November 11, when shots allegedly were fired from a car in the vicinity of the White House and Washington Monument.
A 1998 Honda Accord was found nearby with a Romanian semi-automatic assault weapon equipped with a large scope inside, nine spent rounds and magazines of ammunition, according to a criminal complaint. The court document said the vehicle was owned by Ortega and another unnamed person.
The criminal complaint quotes a witness who knows the accused as saying Ortega views Obama as “the anti-Christ” and said he “needed to kill him.” Another witness allegedly said Ortega called Obama “the devil” and quoted Ortega as saying he would “not stop until it’s done.”
Ortega is charged with attempting to assassinate the president and faces a possible maximum of life in prison if convicted.
The president was in California on November 11, the day of the shooting incident.
A Secret Service statement said a search conducted after the shooting found one bullet that had been stopped by bulletproof glass in a window of the White House and another round of ammunition outside the building.