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Man found with stolen weapons and truck deemed mentally ill

Washington residents may remember the 22-year-old man arrested for bringing a Dodge Ram with two weapons and six Molotov cocktails into Seattle's University District on July 3, 2013. University of Washington security personnel discovered him sleeping in a truck with Montana plates that day. After police discovered that the truck had been reported stolen in Montana, they took the man into custody and searched the truck, finding the weapons and body armor.

The man had left for Seattle to talk about politics, according to a note he left in Montana. When authorities looked for his activity online, they described him as posting "fringe opinions." The body armor and guns were the property of the same man who owned the truck. This caused concern among authorities that he could have been planning an attack of some kind on Seattle. Prosecutors now say that there is no evidence of a plot or planned attack and that the man is mentally ill.

Prosecutors and the man's public defender are asking for three years prison time. The man faced a mandatory 10-year sentence before he pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Prosecutors are requesting intensive psychiatric treatment in prison for the man. The man has no criminal history, and his mental health history is not known from the news report.

There are many unanswered questions in this report, particularly surrounding the assertions of mental illness, fringe online posting and the lack of criminal history. Federal charges can carry very long mandatory prison sentences. However, a criminal defense lawyer may help a defendant who wants to avoid a trial negotiate a plea bargain. As this case shows, a bargain can significantly lower a prison sentence.

Source: Seattle PI, "Prosecutors: Man caught with bombs in U-District wasn't planning trouble", Levi Pulkkinen, February 26, 2014

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