Pipe Bomber

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A former college student accused of planting pipe bombs in mailboxes in Nebraska and the Midwest is declared incompetent to stand trial.

A federal judge in Cedar Rapids has ordered Luke Helder returned to a medical center in Rochester, Minn. The 22-year-old Helder appeared at Thursday's hearing.

If at some Helder is declared competent, the federal charges remain and could be reinstated.

If he's found not to be a significant risk to others, federal law could allow him to go free.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett based his ruling on forensic reports by government doctors in the months after Helder's May 2002 arrest.

He has pleaded innocent to federal charges of using a pipe bomb in a crime of violence and destroying property used in interstate commerce. The charges carry a life sentence.

Federal prosecutors said Helder placed pipe bombs in rural mailboxes in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas.

Four postal employees and two Iowa Women were injured.


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