By Jim Forsyth and Ioanna Makris
AMARILLO, Texas (Reuters) - A federal judge in Texas has ordered the JetBlue pilot who suffered an apparent midair meltdown in late March to undergo psychiatric testing to determine if he is competent to stand trial on charges of interfering with the plane's crew.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson ordered that Captain Clayton Osbon, 49, be removed from the Amarillo hospital where he has been held since the incident and taken to an undisclosed facility for the psychiatric tests.
JetBlue Flight 191 from New York to Las Vegas was diverted to Amarillo where it made an emergency landing on March 27 following what authorities described as erratic behavior by Osbon, who witnesses said ran through the cabin before passengers tackled him.
The FBI said he was restrained after he started banging on the door of the cockpit, yelling, "pray now for Jesus Christ."
An FBI affidavit filed with the request for a psychiatric exam said Osbon began acting strangely 3-1/2 hours into the 5-hour flight, at one point telling the first officer, "We are not going to Vegas" and rambling about "Iran, Iraq and terrorists."
Robinson also agreed to postpone Osbon's scheduled detention hearing until Monday. He has been under arrest on felony charges that could bring him 20 years in prison.
Connye Osbon, the pilot's wife, said in a statement released by JetBlue that while her husband was "clearly distressed, he was not intentionally violent toward anybody."
(Reporting By Ioanna Makris in Amarillo and Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Osterman)