White House Gunman Mentally Ill, Attorney Says


The trial of the Colorado hotel worker accused of spraying the White House with semi-automatic rifle fire began Monday with his attorney claiming he suffered from “a terrible disease of the mind.”

“He began hearing voices inside his head and seeing visions of things that were not there,” federal public defender A.J. Kramer told jurors, referring to Francisco Martin Duran, 26, who was seized by tourists and Secret Service agents moments after the Oct. 29 shooting.

Duran has been charged with 10 felony counts, the most serious of which, attempted assassination of the president, carries a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment.

Federal prosecutors added the assassination attempt charge nearly three weeks after the shooting even though officials initially said Duran had fired randomly at the White House and that President Clinton was never in danger. The jury was told this most serious charge was based on notes left by Duran and statements he had made to co-workers that authorities had not known about at first.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Dubelier told the jury of 10 men and two women that Duran had left writings with such phrases as “time to take the country back … kill the Prez … (and) death to all government officials.”


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