Plea deal in Family Research Council shooting may be close

Local and federal investigators work to gather evidence after a security guard was shot in the arm at the headquarters of the Family Research Council on August 15, 2012 in Washington.

Story highlights

  • Court filing seeks hearing delay to allow prosecution and defense to negotiate
  • A Virginia man is accused of shooting Family Research Council's building manager
  • Suspect expressed disagreement with conservative group's politics, affidavit says
The man accused in the August shooting at the Family Research Council appears close to agreeing to plead guilty to some of the 10 charges against him, according to a court document filed on Thursday.
The federal public defender representing Floyd Corkins filed a motion asking that a status hearing scheduled for next week be delayed "to allow the parties to complete plea negotiations." Attorney David Bos said that the prosecution agreed to the delay and that the two sides hope to finalize an agreement by January 18.
Corkins, 28, was arrested at the conservative policy group's Washington office where the building manager, Leo Johnson, was shot in the arm.
Floyd Lee Corkins was arrested for allegedly opening fire at the Family Research Council's Washington headquarters.
Bos did not discuss the specifics of the plea deal. However, at a December 3 hearing, prosecutors said they proposed that Corkins plead guilty to three charges: interstate transportation of a firearm, assault with intent to kill while armed and an act of terrorism while armed.
Bos said at the time he had some concerns about the offer. One sticking point may concern the count accusing Corkins of an act of terrorism while armed. That's a District of Columbia law that was passed a decade ago but has never been used before. The charge alleges that Corkins wanted to kill Johnson and other employees of the Family Research Council "with the intent to intimidate and coerce a significant portion of the civilian population of the District of Columbia and the United States."
At the earlier court hearing, no details were publicly discussed about how much prison time Corkins might have to serve if he were to agree to plead guilty to the three charges. Seven other charges would be dismissed. There's no word on whether the terms of the proposed deal have changed since that early December hearing.
An affidavit by an FBI agent filed earlier in the case said Corkins entered the Family Research Council headquarters on August 15, encountered the building manager and said words to the effect of, "I don't like your politics."
Corkins allegedly pulled a 9 mm handgun from his backpack and fired at Johnson, who was handling security at the entrance. According to the document, security camera video captured the shooting and showed Johnson tackling his assailant and disarming him.
Police officers found a box of ammunition with 50 rounds in Corkins's backpack and 15 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A. The affidavit noted that a senior executive of the restaurant chain had recently announced his opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Family Research Council is a Christian group that focuses on family, anti-abortion and religious liberty issues. It views homosexuality as harmful.
At the time of the shooting, Corkins was living with his parents in Virginia and volunteered at a Washington center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
According to the affidavit, Corkins's parents told investigators after the shooting that their son "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."