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Cornell pleads not guilty to Capitol plot

Butler County Sheriff
Chris Cornell pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court.

Chris Cornell, dressed in a gray and black prison jumpsuit, showed no expression when he walked into a federal courtroom to enter not guilty pleas the charges against him.

He did turn around and glance at his family.

The 20 year old Green Township man is charged with plotting to build, plant and detonate pipe bombs at and near the U.S. Capitol and then use firearms to shoot and kill employees and officials  inside.

Magistrate Stephanie Bowman began Cornell's arraignment by stating that the court will refer to the defendant by his legal name, Christopher Lee Cornell, not by his Muslim name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah.

Public defender Karen Savir said her client's prayer needs are being met at the Boone County Jail.

Cornell pleaded not guilty to three charges:  attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, solicitation to commit violence, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

If convicted Cornell faces up to 20 years each for both attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States and solicitation to commit violence. He faces a prison term of 5 years to life on the weapons charge.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Chris Cornell's family walks out of the court after his arraignment.

Court documents say that beginning in the summer of 2014 Cornell tweeted under his Muslim name his support for ISIS and "voiced his support for violent jihad as well as support for violent attacks committed by others in North America and elsewhere."

Cornell's father, John Cornell, didn't say anything to the media before or after this hearing. Last Friday he said his son was coerced into this; and that he is being portrayed as "one of them,'' referring to terrorists.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.