Christopher Lee Cornell: Terror Suspect Found Competent To Stand Trial

Christopher Lee Cornell was found competent to stand trial by a federal judge on Monday. The 22-year-old Cincinnati man is accused of plotting to attack the U.S. capitol in support of the jihadist group ISIS. According to reports, the young man recently cut his long hair and beard. He also confirmed he wants to be referred to by his given name, Christopher Lee Cornell, as opposed to his previously chosen name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah.

According to ABC News, U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith chose November 1 for the trial after hearing from defense psychologist, Scot Bresler. During the hearing, Bresler said Cornell would require numerous mental health assessments because his level of competence is “marginal” and could eventually influence his ability to participate in his own trial.

Cornell has been held without bond since he was arrested by FBI officials near Cincinnati, Ohio, in January 2015. Following his indictment on four charges, including attempted murder of United States officials, Cornell pleaded not guilty.

Christopher Lee Cornell’s legal team said they will pursue a not guilty plea by reason of insanity, despite their client’s objections.

According to Bresler, Cornell has long suffered from depression and a schizotypal disorder, which causes unusual thought patterns and social anxiety. The psychologist went on to say Cornell was unpredictable and was recently found crying and unable to understand what was being said to him.

Bresler described his patient as a loner, who is socially withdrawn and has essentially lived in front of his computer. Bresler said, “he created this identity to make him feel as if his life made a difference … to make him feel he was somebody.”

As reported by WCPO, Bresler met with Christopher Cornell at Boone County jail in Northern Kentucky, where he was transferred from a federal prison facility. The psychologist confirmed his patient now prefers to be called “Chris” as opposed to “Raheel.” According to reports, the terror suspect adopted the name Rahman Mahrus Ubaydah after self-radicalizing because it made him “feel like he was somebody.”

Federal prosecutor Timothy Mangan did not call any further witnesses after questioning the defense psychologist. However, he did file several exhibits, which included letters Christopher Lee Cornell wrote to a woman during his incarceration. Southern Ohio acting U.S. attorney, Benjamin C. Glassman, said he was pleased that the case was progressing and that a trial date was scheduled.

Martin Pinales and Candace Crouse were appointed to represent Cornell after his federal public defender withdrew from the case. The legal team previously represented former Cincinnati bartender Michael Hoyt, who was found not guilty of plotting to kill former Speaker of the House John Boehner.

After taking over as Cornell’s legal counsel, Crouse and Pinales almost immediately filed a motion stating, “Mr. Cornell may presently be suffering from mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent.”

Christopher Cornell was 20-years-old when he walked into the Point Blank Indoor Shooting Range & Gun Shop near Cincinnati and purchased two semiautomatic weapons and 600 rounds of ammunition. According to reports, he planned to plant and detonate bombs at the U.S. Capitol and open fire on anyone who tried to escape. FBI agents were reportedly watching him for months and took him into custody when the terror attack appeared imminent.

Cornell originally attracted the attention of the FBI when he adopted the alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah and voiced support for ISIS via social media.

According to reports, the young man eventually confided in an FBI informant, stating, “I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything.” Christopher Lee Cornell is also accused of showing the informant jihadist videos and tutorials on how to build pipe bombs and choose targets.

[Image via Trekandshoot/Shutterstock]

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