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Prosecutors want JetBlue captain held without bond

- Associated Press - Monday, April 2, 2012

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — A JetBlue Airways captain charged with disrupting a Las Vegas-bound flight after he left the cockpit screaming about religion and terrorists should remain in federal custody without bond, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Capt. Clayton Osbon smiled at his wife and JetBlue employees who watched his first federal court appearance from the gallery, but he did not speak other than to tell the judge he understood his rights and the charges against him.

Mr. Osbon, 49, was not asked to enter a plea during the 10-minute hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Clinton E. Averitte is expected to rule on the bond issue at a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Mr. Osbon has remained in Amarillo since the plane he was piloting last Tuesday was forced to make an emergency landing there following his bizarre unraveling on Flight 191. Passengers wrestled Mr. Osbon to the ground, witnesses said, after he ran through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al Qaeda, and then restrained him with seat-belt extenders.

He was taken to an Amarillo hospital for a medical evaluation and remained there for several days. It was not immediately clear where he was being held Monday.

Mr. Osbon wore normal clothes in the courtroom, dressed in a green shirt and baggy green pants. He was shackled at the feet. His attorney, Dean Roper, declined to comment after the hearing.

Connye Osbon hurried to a waiting car outside the courthouse following her husband's hearing. She released a statement through the airline Sunday saying the in-flight outburst "wasn't intentionally violent toward anyone" and asked the media to respect their family's privacy.

Longtime friends and fellow pilots have said they don't recall Mr. Osbon having any previous mental or health problems.

Prosecutors have charged Mr. Osbon with interfering with a flight crew. Under federal law, a conviction can bring up to 20 years in prison.

Investigators say Mr. Osbon told his co-pilot that "things just don't matter" and incoherently rambled about religion shortly after the flight departed from New York. His behavior became more erratic as the flight wore on, prosecutors say, and ended with a tense struggle in the cabin after Mr. Osbon abruptly left the cockpit.

A flight attendant's ribs were bruised while trying to restrain Mr. Osbon, but no one on board was seriously hurt.

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