Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

White House Gunman Is Found Competent, Held without Bail

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

White House Gunman Is Found Competent, Held without Bail

Article excerpt

The man accused of spraying the White House with semiautomatic rifle fire was ordered held without bail Wednesday after being found competent to stand trial.

U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson refused a request to drop one of the four felony charges against Francisco Martin Duran and declined to set bail, citing public safety concerns. Duran has not entered a plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Dubelier said the government would not contest a doctor's finding that Duran, 26, an upholsterer from Colorado Springs, Colo., was competent to be tried. At a hearing Monday, Duran was ordered to undergo mental tests.

Privately, a federal prosecutor held open the possibility that Duran might yet be charged with trying to assassinate President Bill Clinton, who was inside the White House watching football on television when the shooting took place. But no new charges were lodged Wednesday.

Duran is charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, destroying government property, assaulting a uniformed Secret Service agent and using a firearm while committing a crime. If convicted of all counts, he could face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Duran underwent a cursory mental examination Tuesday night after his public defender, Leigh Kenny, had failed to get it stopped.

Duran was arrested Saturday after pulling a Chinese-made, semiautomatic SKS rifle from under his coat and firing at the front of the presidential mansion from Pennsylvania Avenue, scattering tourists and bystanders, authorities said.

On Wednesday, Duran was in court for the third time in as many days, dressed in the same black knit polo shirt and black jeans. The courtroom normally is used for high-security drug trials, and the principal figures - judge, lawyers and defendant - are separated from spectators by clear plastic 1 1/4 inches thick.

Spectators are screened for weapons before entering the building and undergo a second magnetometer examination before they are allowed in the courtroom. …

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