Dripping Springs man competent for trial over Ft. Hood mass killing threat

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Thomas Chestnut_501516

WACO, Texas (KWKT) — A man accused of threatening a mass shooting on Fort Hood has been ruled competent to stand trial.

Federal Magistrate Jeffrey C. Manske on Wednesday set a trial date of July 31 for Thomas Anthony Chestnut, of Dripping Springs, who is charged with interstate communications with a threat to injure in connection with the incident in which he threatened to go to Fort Hood and kill certain people, take hostages and kill a large number of others if his demands were not met.

Magistrate Manske said he had received a 16-page evaluation conducted by two doctors who had concluded that Chestnut was competent to stand trial and was competent at the time of the threats.

Manske then ruled him competent, at which time Chestnut entered a plea of “not guilty” and the trial date was set, with a bond hearing scheduled for July 13.

Chestnut’s attorney Bradford Glendening said that there was no plea deal on the table and there was no advantage for him to plea out.

He said Chestnut had once before been accused and convicted of a crime in a military court and had it overturned and that he felt that he would be vindicated as second time, as well.

According to court records, on Feb. 22, 2017, Chestnut made verbal threats when he called and spoke with a sergeant at the US Army 1st Calvary Division on Fort Hood.

Chestnut threatened to go to Fort Hood, kill the sergeant, take hostages, start a mass killing spree and then kill himself if he was not allowed to speak with someone of rank, officials say.

Chestnut then spoke with a major and advised that he was a former soldier wrongly accused of a crime and eventually released from prison in 2016.

He had been found guilty by a military jury on June 24, 2014, of one charge of sexual assault and found not guilty of one charge of assault consummated by a battery in an incident alleged to have occurred at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 2012.

Chestnut was sentenced to a three-year prison term. His conviction was overturned on Dec. 24, 2016, and he was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is no longer in the U.S. military.

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