TULSA (CN) — Federal officials can force-feed antipsychotic drugs to a military veteran accused of bombing an Oklahoma recruiting office for him to be deemed competent to stand trial, a federal magistrate ruled Tuesday.
Magistrate Frank H. McCarthy granted prosecutors’ request after a hearing Tuesday in Tulsa Federal Court, saying their medical report, filed under seal, met the evidentiary burden required for such an order.
Defendant Benjamin Don Roden, of Tulsa, has refused to take the drugs. His attorney, federal public defender Whitney Mauldin, told the judge her client has religious objections to the drugs and has a constitutional right to be free from taking medication, the Tulsa World newspaper reported.
“Hopefully, we’ll see some marked improvement quickly,” McCarthy said.
Roden was arrested in July, days after a pipe bomb was detonated outside a Tulsa-area Air Force recruiting office after business hours. Windows were damaged and a front door was blasted off of its hinges, but no injuries were reported.
Roden is charged with two counts of destruction of federal property, use of explosives to commit a federal felony, and malicious damage to federal property with explosives.
He was discharged from the Oklahoma Air National Guard in April 2017 and was trained as a firefighter. Prosecutors describe him as an upset veteran who hates the military and is unhappy with the Air Force for not being accepted into the Marines. They say he complained in his Facebook profile that his passport was destroyed and that the federal government tried to keep him from leaving the country because of his “special warfare capability.”
McCarthy on Tuesday denied a defense request to close the hearing to the public due to the discussion of Roden’s medical history.
“I think the public has every right to know what the facts and circumstances of this case are,” the judge said.
Citing the severity of the charges, McCarthy said Roden faces 10 to 45 years in federal prison if convicted.
The judge determined in August that Rosen is not competent to stand trial. Roden’s doctors are asking for four months for treatment with the antipsychotic drugs.