Didn’t take an eagle-eyed aviator to see this one coming.
JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon, whose erratic behavior and apocalyptic ranting caused passengers to restrain him physically during a March 27 flight, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of interfering with a flight crew, according to Reuters.
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Defense attorney Dean Roper today filed notice of the plea in federal court in Amarillo, Texas, where the plane made an emergency landing after being diverted off its course from New York to Las Vegas, according to the news agency.
McGregor Scott, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in Sacramento, California, told Bloomberg that an insanity defense would keep the burden of proof for prosecutors but, by not contesting the facts of Osbon’s behavior, it would allow the defense to focus solely on Osbon’s mental state and avoid emotional testimony about how Osbon’s actions endangered everyone on the plane — something that could anger jurors.
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Osbon is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation but both the prosecution and the defense are likely to present their own evidence pertaining to Osbon’s mental health, according to Scott.