The man who locked himself in the cockpit of an empty and idle American Eagle jet Aug. 22 at Metro Airport was insane at the time of the offense, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
No one was injured during the three-hour incident.
Andrew Alessi, 37, of Baton Rouge, was found not guilty of interference with security personnel, a charge that carries a possible 10 years in prison.
A non-jury trial was conducted before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, who had sent Alessi to a federal prison hospital in Texas for mental examination in September and October.
The judge ordered the report of that mental examination entered into the court record under seal, meaning it is not available to the public.
Brady said Alessi was competent for the one-day trial Thursday, but concluded that at the time of the airport incident, Alessi “was actively psychotic, hyper-religious, manic and delusional.”
The judge said Alessi “was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect that impaired his overall ability to appreciate the … wrongfulness of his conduct on the day of the offense.”
U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. signed his agreement to that conclusion.
“It’s a good resolution,” J. David Bourland, Alessi’s attorney, said after the trial.
Bourland said Brady immediately ordered Alessi returned to a federal prison hospital for additional mental evaluation and treatment.
Brady wrote in his order that Alessi will remain hospitalized until physicians determine he is ready for release and the judge has both considered their report and ordered a final release.
“This really gets the young man the help he needs,” Bourland said. “This is a big thing for us.”
Alessi also was arrested by East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies in August for allegedly borrowing a 2003 Chevrolet from a woman and selling it without her permission for $3,500.
He kept and spent that money, according to the affidavit of a sheriff’s investigator.
Bourland said Alessi was never formally charged for that alleged crime, but added that the case remains open.
The defense attorney said he will meet with state prosecutors to apprise them of Brady’s findings in the federal case.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved