CINCINNATI – An Ohio man on Monday pleaded guilty to plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs and faces up to 30 years in prison.
Christopher Cornell, 22, dressed in black-and-white striped jail clothes and shackled, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State militant group.
A fourth charge of solicitation to commit a violent crime will be dismissed at his sentencing on Oct. 31, said one of his attorneys, Eric Eckes. Cornell, who mainly answered the judge’s questions with “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am,” faces up to 30 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision, according to officials at the hearing.
The attempted murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Another Cornell attorney, Martin Pinales, said after the hearing that the guilty plea was in the best interest of his client.
“At the sentencing hearing, all the facts will come out, and those will be instrumental in the sentencing,” he said.
Cornell, of Green Township, Ohio, near Cincinnati was arrested in January 2015 and accused of plotting an attack using pipe bombs and bullets. He initially pleaded not guilty.
In April, U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith in Cincinnati ruled that Cornell, who has been held without bond since his arrest, was competent to stand trial. Last November, the judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Cornell after his attorneys questioned his mental competence.
Cornell researched the construction of pipe bombs, purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition, and made plans to travel to Washington to carry out the plot, according to the original indictment.
After his arrest, he posted statements online that included a call for others to join him in violent jihad against the United States on behalf of Islamic State, federal prosecutors said, citing the plea agreement.
Cornell’s father, who previously told local media he felt his son was set up by an FBI informant, declined to address the plea after the hearing.
“We love Christopher very much and we all support him,” John Cornell said. “He has a lot of family and friends that support him.”
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