Possible insanity defense in Oklahoma Army vet’s trial over US Capitol riot | Crime-and-courts

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Nolan ClayThe Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY — A judge is being asked to have an indicted Oklahoma Army veteran assessed to determine if he was insane at the time of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Benjamen Scott Burlew faces felony and misdemeanor charges accusing him of causing civil disturbance, assaulting a press photographer and assaulting or obstructing a police officer outside the Capitol . His jury trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 24 in federal court in Washington, DC.

His attorney asked U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss for an assessment based on recent observations and Burlew’s mental health history.

A handful of others charged in the Capitol attack have undergone mental health evaluations. Most notable is Jacob Chansley, the self-proclaimed “QAnon shaman” whose horned fur hat, bare chest and face paint made him one of the most talked about figures in the riot.

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Burlew, 42, was arrested a year ago in Wyandotte. He has a residential address in Miami, in far northeast Oklahoma.

“Mr. Burlew has increasingly shown signs of mental disconnection,” defense attorney Robert L. Jenkins told the judge in a written motion last week. understanding of the seriousness of his legal situation.”

Burlew was an Army Ranger and suffered a traumatic brain injury while on active duty, the attorney also told the judge. His deployments included service in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

He was diagnosed a month before the events on Capitol Hill with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the motion. He is currently on disability.

His disability status was upgraded on August 30 due to deteriorating conditions, according to the petition.

The attorney wants Burlew assessed to determine if he is currently mentally capable and if he was insane at the time of the offence. The judge scheduled a hearing on the status of the video Thursday in light of the request.

An accused cannot be prosecuted if he is declared mentally incapable. An accused cannot be convicted if he is insane at the time of the crime.

More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the investigation into the U.S. Capitol breach, the Justice Department said in a news release in August. Nearly a third were charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement officers.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Burlew was identified as a suspect in the assault on the news photographer last year based on footage taken from videos of the incident, the FBI reported. These images were placed on the FBI’s US Capitol Violence “Most Wanted” webpage.

The first tip about Burlew came from “a group of internet sleuths,” the FBI said. Detectives found a YouTube video of Burlew listing his name during an interview outside the Capitol with Citizen Media News, “which claims to be a ‘grassroots’ journalism and media platform.”

Some people outside the Capitol mistook the Associated Press photographer for an Antifa activist because he was dressed in black, the videos show. Burlew can be seen in the video grabbing and shoving the victim, then forcefully pushing him over a low wall, the FBI reported.

Burlew was later identified as a suspect involved in a confrontation with a Washington, DC police officer.

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