Judge rules JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon competent to stand trial
A JetBlue captain later identified as Clayton Osbon is removed from one of the airline's planes March 28, 2012, in Amarillo, Texas. / Steve Miller/The Reporter's Edge
(CBS/AP) AMARILLO, Texas - A judge ruled Friday that a JetBlue Airways pilot who left the cockpit during a flight and screamed about religion and terrorists is mentally competent to stand trial.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson issued her ruling in Amarillo after hearing evidence about 49-year-old Clayton F. Osbon's mental competency.
Osbon recently underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation at a medical facility to see if he could assist properly in his defense and to determine if he was sane at the time of the alleged offense. Robinson ruled Friday that the evaluation should be sealed.
He was indicted in April on one charge of interfering with a flight crew. The offense is defined as assaulting or intimidating the crew, interfering with its duties or diminishes its ability to operate the plane.
If convicted, Osbon could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
The allegation stems from an in-air incident March 27 after the plane left New York for Las Vegas.
Osbon, of Richmond Hills, Ga., who has been with JetBlue since 2000, allegedly ran through the plane's cabin yelling about Jesus and al Qaeda. The first officer locked him out of the cockpit and passengers wrestled him to the floor before the plane made an emergency landing in Amarillo.
CBS News reported that a source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the captain was behaving erratically and kept complaining about the noise on the radio, asking to "keep the chatter down." He was "speaking incoherently" in the cockpit and pressing incorrect buttons on the flight panel.
Shortly after leaving New York on the five-hour flight, Osbon started rambling about religion to the first officer, according to court documents. He scolded air traffic controllers to quiet down, then turned off the radios altogether, and dimmed the monitors in the cockpit. He said aloud that "things just don't matter" and encouraged his co-pilot that they take a leap of faith.
"We're not going to Vegas," Osbon said, according to the affidavit.
Osbon was suspended after the incident. CBS News reported that prior to the incident, Osborn had completed a medical exam in December 2011, which also took a look at his mental health. Had he sent out any warning signs about his psychological condition, he would not have been allowed to fly. JetBlue Airways spokeswoman Sharon Jones said Thursday that Osbon remains an employee and his status is inactive.
Popular on CBSNews.com
- Port Authority releases photo of One WTC workers at dizzying heights
- Bridge collapse blamed on tractor-trailer 286 Comments
- Washington state bridge collapses 20 Photos
- Best U.S. beaches 2013 10 Photos
- Frantic 911 calls reveal chaos in Okla., following tornado
- No fatalities in I-5 bridge collapse in NW Wash. 141 Comments
- Clean-up efforts underway in Okla. 29 Photos
- Earthquake, multiple aftershocks jolt Californians