From the desk of

Ryan Coventon

New Competency Hearing Held for Bixby Pipe Bomb Suspect

Ryan Coventon - Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Last summer, a pipe bomb detonated outside of an Air Force recruiting center in Bixby, Oklahoma. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blast.

The next day, law enforcement officials arrested Benjamin Roden, a two-year Air Force veteran who served as a senior airman and trained as a firefighter in the service. Roden sought training to become an electrician but resigned when he was unable to complete the training.

The former airman was described as "disgruntled," and his Facebook posts seemed to show increasing agitation, paranoia, and frustration with the local police, the federal government, and the Armed Forces.

When agents arrested Roden, they say they found multiple items associated with producing explosives as well as a book and notes on how to build explosive devices. They claim to have also found a bag containing more pipe bombs, a loaded handgun, an AR-15, and an application for a German visa in his apartment. Officials say they found more materials for manufacturing explosives at the home of Roden's mother, whom he frequently visited.

A federal grand jury indicted the Bixby bombing suspect on seven counts, including malicious damage to federal property by use of an explosive and possession of unregistered destructive devices. However, the defendant's attorneys argued that their client was mentally incompetent and unable to assist in his own defense.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Roden underwent mental competency evaluation by two different doctors. Based on their findings, a federal judge in August ruled that the defendant was incompetent to stand trial. At that time, the judge allowed 90 days--or more if necessary--for Roden to undergo treatment to restore competency.

Now, that time has passed. Roden's new competency hearing was scheduled for January 2. As of this writing it is not yet announced whether or not the defendant's competency has been restored. If so, he will face trial for the bombing of the Bixby Air Force recruiting center. If he is still considered mentally incompetent, the judge will determine whether to allow more time for treatment or whether to remand him to the custody of a mental health facility.

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