COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled there is ample evidence that a man accused of planning an attack inspired by the Islamic State group at a shopping and entertainment complex near Washington, D.C., isn’t mentally competent to stand trial.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis on Friday ordered Rondell Henry to be held in a “suitable” federal Bureau of Prisons facility for up to four months so experts can determine whether he could be competent to be tried in the future. The judge also recommended that Henry be treated at a federal medical center.
A forensic psychologist who examined Henry found ample evidence that he is mentally unfit to assist in his defense, according to a court filing. Prosecutors and a defense attorney agree, the judge said.
Henry is accused of stealing a U-Haul van in Virginia and parking it at the National Harbor, a popular waterfront destination just outside the nation’s capital. Police arrested him the next morning after they found the van and saw Henry jump over a security fence.
Henry told investigators he planned to carry out an attack like one in which a driver ran over and killed dozens of people in Nice, France, in 2016, authorities said. Henry intended to kill as many “disbelievers” as possible, a prosecutor from U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office said during a hearing in April.
After his arrest by local law enforcement officers, Henry was taken for a psychiatric evaluation and held at a mental health facility for several days before FBI agents took him into custody.
Henry is a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to the country from Trinidad and Tobago about a dozen years ago.
Prosecutors have said Henry watched Islamic State group propaganda videos of foreign terrorists beheading civilians and fighting overseas. Investigators said they recovered a phone Henry had discarded on a highway in an apparent attempt to conceal evidence, including images of the Islamic State flag, armed Islamic State fighters and the man who carried out the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
The terrorism charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Henry also faces a stolen vehicle charge that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
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