TULSA, Okla. — A former Air Force senior airman suspected of setting off a pipe bomb outside an Air Force recruiting office in Oklahoma is mentally incompetent to stand trial on federal explosives charges, a judge determined Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank McCarthy ruled that 28-year-old Benjamin Roden had some type of “mental disease or defect,” making him unable to assist in his defense. McCarthy ordered Roden hospitalized at a federal facility for further evaluation “to determine whether there would be a time when he might be considered well enough to stand trial.”
Whitney Mauldin, Roden’s federal public defender, said after the hearing that additional tests will take about three months, and she doesn’t expect another hearing in the case until at least December. She said two mental evaluations filed under seal with the court reached the same conclusion that Roden was unable to assist in his own defense due to a mental impairment.
Roden was seated at the defendant’s table, wearing a red jail outfit and a beard. He didn’t speak during Tuesday’s hearing.
A federal grand jury indicted Roden earlier this month on charges that include using an explosive to damage federal property, using an explosive to commit felonies and possessing unregistered destructive devices. No one was hurt in the July 10 explosion in the Tulsa suburb of Bixby.
Prosecutors claim that Roden “turned to hate” after he couldn’t complete the training required to become a certified electrician in the Air Force.
They said that Roden, a decorated former airman, felt rejected, was out of work and harbored a grudge against the Air Force. Prosecutors said he also began blaming that military branch for blocking his attempt to join the U.S. Marines.
When authorities arrested Roden, they said they searched his motorcycle and apartment and discovered a bag containing two pipe bombs, materials used to make explosive devices, a chamber-loaded .45 caliber handgun with ammunition, an AR-15 assault-style rifle, more than $3,800 in U.S. currency and an application for a German national visa, according to the affidavit.