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Nicholas Roske, accused of trying to kill Brett Kavanaugh, pleads not guilty

Nicholas John Roske, accused of attempting to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pleaded not guilty Wednesday, at a hearing at the Southern Division Courthouse, in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, Calif., was arrested outside Kavanaugh's Maryland home earlier this month armed with a gun, knife and burglary tools, according to court documents.  

An FBI affidavit said that two U.S. deputy marshals saw someone dressed in black and carrying a suitcase arrive in a taxi at Kavanaugh's home in the middle of the night. Shortly after his arrival there, Roske called 911 saying he was having suicidal thoughts and had a gun, according to the court documents.  Montgomery County police officers took Roske into custody without further issue, and no one was injured. 

Roske was later indicted on a charge of attempting to assassinate a justice of the United States. At the brief hearing Wednesday afternoon, Roske sat slumped forward with his head down as the judge said he would face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.  

He told investigators after his arrest that he was upset about the leaked Supreme Court draft decision indicating a majority of the justices supported the overturning of the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, the affidavit said. Court documents state that Roske also cited the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and said he thought Kavanaugh would side with decisions to loosen gun laws.  

"Roske stated that he began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill the Supreme Court Justice," according to the affidavit.   

Following the release last month of that draft Supreme Court opinion, the Supreme Court police reported a "significant increase in violent threats," including threats made on social media and directed at members of the court, according to an intelligence bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security. 

The draft opinion also sparked protests outside the conservative justices homes, including Kavanaugh's.  In response, Congress passed a bill increasing security for justices and their families. President Biden signed the bill into law last week.  

Roske remains in custody. His jury trial is scheduled to begin this summer, on Aug. 23.

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