- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - Attorneys for a man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of the Islamic State group filed court documents Tuesday questioning his mental competence.

Defense attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith for a hearing to determine the competency of Christopher Lee Cornell to stand trial.

Cornell, of suburban Cincinnati, was arrested Jan. 14 on charges alleging he planned to attack the Capitol with pipe bombs and to shoot government officials and employees. He later told WXIX-TV he wanted to go to Washington, D.C., and shoot President Barack Obama in the head.

“There is reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Cornell may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent,” his attorneys’ motion said.

The attorneys also filed a motion asking to allow them to file under seal a competency report, keeping private his medical records and personal and family history information.

Attorney Martin Pinales said he wouldn’t say anything about the case beyond the court filings. A federal prosecutor in the case, Timothy Mangan, declined to comment.

Pinales and attorney Candace Crouse also represent a Cincinnati-area man, Michael Hoyt, who was accused this year of threatening to kill then-House Speaker John Boehner and was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity.

A federal court hearing is scheduled Nov. 24 to assess Hoyt’s mental stability. Authorities said Hoyt, a former bartender, had talked of shooting Boehner, an Ohio Republican, or poisoning his drink.

Pinales and Crouse took over Cornell’s defense in July. Trial has been pending because of evidence deadlines that go into early 2016.

Cornell pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees. He has been held without bond since his arrest.

The FBI has said Cornell wanted to “wage jihad” by attacking the Capitol and had sent messages on social media and posted video in support of Islamic State militants and violent attacks by others. The FBI said he had just bought two M-15 assault weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when arrested.

His arrest came amid rising U.S. concerns about homegrown would-be terrorists. FBI Director James Comey said last month in a Cincinnati visit that Islamic State group efforts to recruit potential homegrown terrorists go on “24 hours a day” across the United States.

Cornell, 21, uses the Muslim name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah. His father has said he was misled and coerced by “a snitch.”

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Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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