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Man accused of trying to assassinate Obama is found competent

November 29, 2011 |  8:39 am

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez has been found mentally competent to face charges of trying to assassinate President Obama.

The man accused of using a high-powered rifle to try to assassinate President Obama has been found mentally competent to face the charges against him. But prosecutors aren't taking any chances.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, of Idaho is accused of parking his car outside the White House on the evening of Nov. 11 and taking aim with an assault rifle. He fired up to nine shots, including one that struck a window of the Obamas' living quarters. That bullet was halted by security glass.

The president was never in any danger. He and the first lady were in California at the time. But authorities have yet to say whether their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, were at home on that Friday night.

A court-appointed psychiatrist met with Ortega-Hernandez for about 50 minutes and concluded that he is competent enough to fully understand the charges pending against him, and to aid in his own defense, according to documents filed by the prosecution and obtained by the Associated Press.

Prosecutors, however, are asking for more extensive tests, perhaps in a bid to ward off any competency issues cropping up later in the case.

A full psychiatric screening is warranted “given the serious nature of the criminal charges pending against the defendant and the likelihood that mental health issues may arise in the course of these proceedings,” according to the court document cited by AP.

Ortega-Hernandez's mother has said she doesn't believe her son is capable of hatching a plan by himself to kill the president. Others, however, say he had become obsessed with Obama, referred to him as "the antichrist" and believed he was personally called to do something about it.

He faces a life sentence if convicted. He made a brief court appearance on Monday, uttering only a "Yes, sir" when asked by the court if was following the nature of the proceedings. He is due back in court Dec. 12.


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Photo: Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. Credit: U.S. Park Police