Accused domestic terror plotter Christopher Hasson will not be released from jail ahead of his trial, a Maryland federal judge ruled Monday, vacating the order of another judge who had said last month that Hasson’s continued detention was inappropriate.
Hasson, a Coast Guard lieutenant who prosecutors say was a white supremacist that planned to commit a “mass casualty event,” has pleaded not guilty to weapons and drug violations, but does not face any charges related to terrorism or attempted murder, which his public defender argued made his detention unlawful.
Last month, a magistrate judge ordered Hasson released and agreed to a plan that would have seen Hasson live with his father-in-law in Virginia under GPS monitoring through his trial.
At a hearing Monday to appeal that decision, Assistant US Attorney Thomas Windom held up four of the long guns, including a sniper rifle, that Hasson had allegedly amassed, showing the judge how they had been modified with advanced sights and grips for “ease of use.”
Windom also showed Judge George Jarrod Hazel an armored vest that Hasson had stashed in his suburban DC home that was part of a plan for “hunting people.”
“It weighs tens of pounds and it is not intended for hunting in any way unless you’re hunting people and expect return fire,” Windom said.
Hasson’s public defender Elizabeth Oyer stuck with the argument that had won her client’s release last month from a magistrate judge in the same federal courthouse, telling Hazel, a district court judge, that prosecutors were merely asking the court to keep Hasson locked up on “a gut feeling.”
Prosecutors are using “sweeping, dramatic rhetoric that is not bolstered by supported facts,” Oyer said.
According to prosecutors, Hasson was inspired by the manifestos of other mass killers to collect weapons and build a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists.
Hasson allegedly searched online about the protection protocol for Supreme Court justices and US senators, as well as for certain public officials’ home addresses.
Ruling from the bench Monday, Hazel called Hasson’s moves to buy guns and search for the location of potential targets “relevant and troubling” and said there were “very clear connections” between instructions in the online manifestos of other domestic plotters and Hasson’s actions.
Hasson’s defense team could appeal the judge’s decision to keep him in detention.