LUBBOCK, Texas — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a psychiatric exam for the JetBlue Airways captain from Richmond Hill accused of interfering with a flight crew when he disrupted a Las Vegas-bound flight after he left the cockpit and screamed about religion and terrorists
The order U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson in Amarillo signed will send Clayton Osbon to a medical facility for federal prisoners for tests to determine if he was legally sane when passengers wrestled him to the floor after witnesses said he ran through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida.
The exam also will determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
The prosecution’s motion filed Wednesday comes the day Osbon’s attorney asked another judge to reschedule a Thursday detention hearing. That judge set the hearing for Monday.
The motion seeking the psych exam states that events enumerated in an FBI affidavit “establish a likelihood that Osbon may be suffering from a mental disease or defect.”
In a motion filed earlier this week, prosecutor Christy Drake asked that bond be denied to Osbon to assure the “safety of any other person and the community,” according to court documents.
Osbon, 49, is alleged to have committed a “crime of violence” and should remain in custody until his trial, documents say.
Osbon was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation March 27 after the plane he
was piloting made an emergency landing in Amarillo. Passengers had restrained him with seat-belt extenders and zip-tie handcuffs for about 20 minutes until the plane landed.
A call to Osbon’s attorney, Dean Roper, was not immediately returned. Drake declined to comment.
Under federal law, a conviction for interfering with a flight crew can bring up to 20 years in prison. The offense is defined as assaulting or intimidating the crew, interfering with its duties or diminishes its ability to do operate the plane.
Investigators say Osbon told his co-pilot “things just don’t matter” and incoherently rambled about religion shortly after the flight departed from New York. His behavior became more erratic as the flight wore on, prosecutors say, and ended with a tense struggle in the cabin after Osbon abruptly left the cockpit.
Passengers said the pilot seemed disoriented, jittery and constantly sipped water when he first marched through the cabin. Then, they said, he began to rant about threats linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan after crew members tried to calm him down in the back of the plane.
A flight attendant’s ribs were bruised while trying to restrain Osbon, but no one on board was seriously hurt.
A day after the incident, JetBlue suspended Osbon pending a review of the flight. Osbon was in the custody of U.S. marshals at the Randall County Jail on Wednesday.