- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

The 89-year-old man accused of killing a guard during a shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum appeared in federal court Wednesday for the first time since the attack.

James W. von Brunn, who is confined to a wheelchair but has largely recovered from being shot in the face during the attack, was denied bail and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Mr. von Brunn objected to his defense attorney’s request that he be evaluated, despite a recommendation from the judge that he only speak through his attorney.

“Your Constitution guarantees me a speedy and fair trail,” Mr. von Brunn said in a slow, steady voice.

When offered another opportunity to address the court, Mr. von Brunn said, “I’m a United States citizen, and as U.S. naval officer I swore to protect my country. I take my vows very seriously.”

Mr. von Brunn, who wore a blue jail-issued outfit during the court appearance, has been hospitalized since the June 10 attack. The prosecution said he fatally shot museum guard Stephen T. Johns, 39, in the museum lobby after the guard opened the door for the elderly man.

His appearance showed no visible signs of his injuries, but he seemed unable to hear out of his right ear and his defense attorney, A.J. Kramer, said that his client’s hearing had been affected by the shooting and that he could no longer walk.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Waid said the attack, recorded on tape, was a well-planned suicide mission. She said Mr. von Brunn had put his affairs in order, including writing out funeral instructions and writing checks to his son to clear out his bank accounts.

“He chose the Holocaust museum because he believes the Holocaust is a lie. He wanted to send a message and place fear,” Ms. Waid said. “This was a suicide mission.”

Mr. von Brunn had a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled “Kill the Best Gentiles!” claiming a Jewish conspiracy “to destroy the white gene pool.” He also claimed the Holocaust was a hoax.

Ms. Waid argued that because of those reasons and the fact that Mr. von Brunn had alienated his entire family, had no true friends and was without a place to live, he would be a risk to the community if released.

“He believes he is a martyr for his cause and has shown he is a martyr for his cause,” she said.

Judge Reggie B. Walton granted the request for a psychological evaluation over Mr. von Brunn’s objection and set the next court appearance for Oct. 14. In the meantime, Mr. von Brunn will be held at a medical facility at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, N.C., to continue rehabilitation from his injuries and undergo the evaluation.

A grand jury has indicted Mr. von Brunn on seven counts, including first-degree murder, killing in a federal building and committing a bias-motivated crime.

Four of the charges make Mr. von Brunn, of Annapolis, eligible for the death penalty.

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