- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A man accused of pipe-bombing an unoccupied police car cannot be held criminally responsible, according to a mental-health evaluation that could keep him out of Maryland prison but not necessarily from a federal one, a state prosecutor said Tuesday.

Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said Tuesday it could take weeks to sort out the legal complications involving Kyle Rutger Mueller of Thurmont, a town of 6,200 about 70 miles northwest of Baltimore.

Mueller faces state charges including malicious destruction and reckless endangerment stemming from an August explosion that damaged a marked, Thurmont Police Department SUV parked outside an officer’s home.

Mueller told police he bought the bomb-making materials but didn’t remember placing the bomb because he had taken two doses of the sleep medication Ambien earlier that night, according to court records. The drug’s possible side effects include memory loss, which has led to the so-called Ambien defense.

In September, Mueller pleaded not criminally responsible, an insanity defense. Last week, prosecutors received the results of a court-ordered mental-health evaluation that concurred with the plea, Smith said.

Prosecutors plan to have an independent expert review the report before deciding how to proceed, Smith said.

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in Baltimore indicted Mueller Thursday on four counts stemming from the same incident. He’s charged with transporting and maliciously using explosive materials, and possessing and discharging a destructive device. Mueller faces a mandatory 35 years in prison, and could get life, if convicted on all counts.

Smith said his office could defer to federal prosecutors or continue prosecuting the state case separately. A state court finding of not criminally responsible wouldn’t necessarily apply to the federal case, he said.

Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office, said she “wouldn’t want to speculate” on how the state mental-health evaluation could affect the federal case.

Mueller’s defense attorneys didn’t return a call from The Associated Press. He’s been held without bail since August.

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