LUBBOCK, Texas – A psychologist testified that a JetBlue Airways pilot who screamed about religion and terrorists during a flight had “a brief psychotic disorder” due to lack of sleep, according to a transcript of the trial obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson found Clayton Osbon not guilty by reason of insanity in a brief, unpublicized trial earlier this month in Texas. Osbon had been charged with interference with a flight crew for his behavior on a March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas. Passengers said they wrestled him to the floor after he ran through the plane’s cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida. The flight was diverted and safely landed in Texas.
According to the court transcripts, forensic neuropsychologist Robert E.H. Johnson testified that Osbon’s disorder lasted about a week after the incident. Johnson didn’t specify how long Osborn may have gone without sleep, and his psychiatric evaluation was sealed during the trial, but he said he determined Osbon suffered from brief psychotic disorder and delusions “secondary to sleep deprivation.”
JetBlue declined to comment on the psychologist’s testimony, citing no medical authority on the topic. But company spokeswoman Sharon Jones said Osbon did not fly March 24 or March 25, and worked a round-trip flight March 26 that gave him 17 hours of off time leading into the flight March 27.
The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating, spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.
Osbon is at a mental health facility in Fort Worth. Court records show he is to have another hearing early next month where the burden will be on him to show “by clear and convincing evidence” that his release would not pose future danger.
Osbon showed up at the airport unusually late for the March 27 flight, and the plane was in midair when he told his first officer they wouldn’t make it to their destination, according to court documents.
He then started rambling about religion. He scolded air traffic controllers to quiet down, then turned off the radios altogether and dimmed the monitors in the cockpit.
Osbon then left the cockpit, according to witness accounts compiled by investigators. Osbon “aggressively” grabbed the hands of a flight attendant who confronted him and later sprinted down the cabin while being chased.
From inside the locked cockpit, which Osbon tried to re-enter by banging on the door, the co-pilot gave an order through the intercom to restrain Osbon, an affidavit said.