WASHINGTON — A man who planned a mass shooting at the Washington headquarters of a conservative Christian lobbying group should spend 11 ½ years in prison for the failed plot, not the 45 years government lawyers want, his defense attorney says.
A lawyer for Floyd Corkins II made the recommendation in a document filed in federal court in Washington on Tuesday.
Corkins’ lawyer says his client was mentally ill when he entered a building housing the Family Research Council armed with nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and shot and wounded a security guard.
Corkins later told authorities he planned to kill as many people as possible and then to smear the sandwiches on their faces as a political statement. Chick-fil-A was making headlines at the time because of its president’s stated opposition to gay marriage, and The Family Research Council also opposes gay marriage.
A judge is set to sentence the 29-year-old Corkins on Sept. 19. Prosecutors earlier this year recommended he spend 45 years in prison. But Corkins’ lawyer, David Bos, disagreed in a 13-page memo filed Tuesday. He wrote that if Corkins were “unrepentant and unremorseful for his conduct, and not suffering from a mental illness at the time he committed the offenses, a severe sentence might indeed be warranted in this case.”
But Bos wrote that six months before the shooting, Corkins voluntarily committed himself to a hospital after “experiencing auditory hallucinations, and having thoughts of killing his parents and conservative right-wing Christians.”
He was released and doing well on medication for months, but the day before the shooting, Corkins missed an appointment for a monthly shot of the medication he was taking, Bos wrote. When police questioned him after the shooting, it was apparent that “the demons” that led Corkins to seek treatment had returned, the attorney wrote.
Corkins, who was living with his parents in northern Virginia, was arrested on Aug. 15, 2012 after he entered the lobby of the Family Research Council and pointed a gun at a security guard. The two struggled, and Corkins fired three shots before he was disarmed and subdued by the security guard, who was shot in the arm.
Corkins bought the gun for the attack on Aug. 9, six days before the shooting, and visited the Family Research Council two days before the shooting to rehearse his plan, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said in making their recommendation of 45 years that if not for the security guard’s actions, Corkins “would have almost certainly succeeded in committing a massacre of epic portions.”
When Corkins was arrested, he was carrying a list of socially conservative organizations that oppose gay marriage. He told authorities that if he had not been caught at the Family Research Council, he planned to go to the next organization on his list and shoot there as well.
Corkins pleaded guilty to three charges in February: interstate transportation of a firearm, assault with intent to kill while armed, and committing an act of terrorism while armed. The first charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. The two other charges carry a maximum of 30 years.
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