following mid air melt down in March
A US District Judge in Texas today found JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon, whose bizarre behavior on board a flight in March forced an emergency landing, not guilty ‘only by reason of insanity.’
Osbon, 49, had been charged with interference with a flight crew and could have faced up to twenty years in prison.
Court documents show U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson in Amarillo received a report from a psychological examination that concluded, in the words of the court filing, “at the time of the commission of the offense, the defendant appeared to suffer from a severe mental disease or defect that impaired his ability to appreciate the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of his behavior.”
The stipulation is signed by Osbon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Drake, and defense lawyer Dean Roper.
On March 27, Osbon was the pilot of a JetBlue flight from New York City to Las Vegas when the FBI says he first started babbling incoherently in the cockpit about religion, attempted to interfere with the cockpit lights, controls, and radio transmissions, said ‘we’re not going to Vegas’ and launched into what the First Officer called a ‘sermon.’
After the First Officer convinced Osbon to leave the flight deck and locked the door behind him, witnesses said Osbon started banging on the door, and started ‘yelling about Iraq, Iran, and al-Qaeda.’ While passengers and flight attendants subdued Osbon, a pilot was flying as a passenger made an emergency landing in Amarillo.
Osbon signed a plea agreement, pleading not guilty by reason of insanity on one count of the indictment, interference with a flight crew.
Judge Robinson ordered that Osbon be taken to the Federal Correctional Institution in Ft. Worth for a mental examination, then returned to court for a hearing August 6th, where his fate will be up to the judge. Under federal law, people found not guilty by reason of insanity can be incarcerated ‘until they can establish their entitlement to release.’
Osbon had been found competent to stand trial in June.
Several passengers on board the flight are also suing JetBlue for gross negligence, saying the airline should have known that he was unfit for duty as a pilot.