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US judge finds Oklahoma bomb plot suspect mentally competent

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Posted at 12:02 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 13:02:18-05

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A man accused of trying to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma City bank in August has been found mentally competent to face trial.

A federal judge said Tuesday that 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell isn't suffering from a mental disease and can assist in his defense. The judge says his ruling was based on results of a psychological evaluation conducted earlier this month.

The Oklahoman reports that Varnell's mental state has been at the forefront of the case after his family noted his history of schizophrenia. He has pleaded not guilty to one count of malicious attempted destruction of property used in and affecting interstate commerce.

Varnell remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. His trial is set to begin in January.

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