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Capitol Shooting Suspect Indicted

A federal grand jury today indicted Russell E. Weston Jr. on six counts in the shooting deaths of two policemen in the U.S. Capitol on July 24, the Justice Department said.

Weston, 41, who has a 20-year history of mental illness, was charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and three counts of using a firearm, Justice spokesman John Russell announced.

An arraignment was set for Wednesday.

Capitol Police Officers Jacob J. Chestnut and John Gibson died in the shooting, and a 24-year-old tourist from Virginia was slightly wounded.

Weston remains in custody without bond, recovering from gunshot wounds he received from Gibson, who blocked Weston's entry into a suite of offices occupied by House Minority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The incident began when Weston burst through a metal detector at a door on the East Front of the Capitol. According to prosecutors, he killed Chestnut there with an execution-style shot to the back of the head as the officer was writing out directions for a tourist.

On Sept. 23, bandaged and appearing frightened, Weston was pushed into a federal courtroom in a wheelchair for his first appearance before a judge since the July 24 shootings. He was there to answer one federal murder charge, covering the deaths of both officers.

He did not enter a plea, although he could have done so, and neither his lawyers nor prosecutors raised the potentially central issue of Weston's mental status. The defendant said he understood the charge against him.

Weston's lawyers, expected eventually to raise an insanity defense, would not discuss that strategy after Weston's brief appearance in U.S. District Court.

Weston, whose family lives in Valmeyer, Illinois, remains under guard in a locked ward at D.C. General Hospital, where he has weathered at least five surgical operations. At last month's court appearance, he was still unable to walk, defense lawyer A.J. Kramer said.

A team of defense psychiatrists has been authorized to visit Weston, and their evaluations likely would form the basis for any insanity claim. Prosecutors have lined up their own doctors, but those experts have not yet been allowed to visit Weston.

Weston was diagnosed years ago as a paranoid schizophrenic. Court papers show he wrote frequent letters to government agencies, complaining about grievances such as his belief that land mines were planted on the grounds of his Montana cabin. He once drove up to the guard hut outside CIA headquarters and delivered a rambling discourse on President Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, and cloning, government court filings have said.

Prosecutors have offered no suspected motive for the shootings.

Eventually, a judge would have to decide whether Weston is competent to understand a trial and whether or not he understood the difference between right and wrong at the time of the shootings.

If convicted, Weston could be sentenced tdeath.

Weston's parents testified before the grand jury in August. They have spoken about their son's 20-year history of mental illness and his fear of the government.


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