Change-of-plea hearing set for suspect in US Capitol plot


CINCINNATI (AP) — A change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for a man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of the Islamic State group.

A hearing for 22-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell has been set for Monday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The hearing notice filed in court Friday doesn’t say what the change involves, but such hearings often signal a defendant is about to plead guilty.

Previously, Cornell pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees. He has been held without bond since his January 2015 arrest in Cincinnati.

Cornell’s attorney, Martin Pinales, didn’t immediately return a call Friday seeking comment. Justice Department spokeswoman Jennifer Thornton said the government would reserve comment until after the hearing.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith ruled April 19 that Cornell was competent to stand trial after his attorneys questioned his mental state.

The FBI said agents arrested Cornell in a gun shop parking lot near his home west of Cincinnati. They said he had just bought two M-15 assault weapons and ammunition and planned to attack the Capitol with pipe bombs and guns.

Cornell was arrested as concern was increasing over Islamic State group militant efforts to recruit homegrown lone-wolf terrorists. Cornell, of Green Township, wanted to “wage jihad” and sent messages on social media and posted video in support of Islamic State group militants and violent attacks by others, the FBI has said.

After his arrest, Cornell told WXIX-TV of Cincinnati that he wanted to shoot President Barack Obama in the head.

Cornell’s father has said his son was misled and coerced by “a snitch.”

___

Associated Press writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

comments powered by Disqus