The California man who is alleged to have traveled to Maryland to kill U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been indicted by a federal grand jury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced Wednesday.
Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, is charged with “attempting to murder a Justice of the United States, specifically, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
The actual indictment lists the charge as an “Attempt to Assassinate” a “Justice of [the] United States.”
The charge listed is an alleged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 351(c), which is different from the charge under which Roske was originally accused via criminal complaint.
Section 351(c) — the new charge — reads quite simply as follows:
Whoever attempts to kill or kidnap any individual designated in subsection (a) of this section shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
Naturally, a “Justice of the United States, as defined in section 451 of title 28” is among the individuals listed in section (a) as among the class of individuals protected by the murder statute.
Roske was originally charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(A). The original charge would have required prosecutors to prove that Roske acted “with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with” the justice or otherwise sought “to retaliate against” the justice “on account of the performance of official duties.”
The punishments available under the new charge — § 351(c) — appear to be generally more severe than the available punishments for attempted murder under the original charge. The original charge carried a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison and a fine, or both.
However, “[a]ctual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties,” the DOJ noted in its usual and customary canned language.
The indictment says the government also wants to take Roske’s guns and gear, if he’s convicted, via a forfeiture action. The indictment lists the following property pursuant to that end:
The property the government wishes to have forfeited “includes, but is not limited to, the following”:
a. Glock 17 firearm, serial number BTMH315;
b. Two Glock magazines containing approximately 10 rounds each of 9mm ammunition;
c. Approximately 17 rounds of 9mm ammunition contained in a plastic bag;
d. Black speed loader;
e. Seamlight TLR4 light and laser, serial number 1220183560;
f. Pair of black hard-knuckled tactical gloves;
g. ComfortTac belly band holster;
h. Black tactical chest rig with pepper spray and black Gerber knife;
i. ASP-Micro TM160 thermal imaging monocular, serial number J25159811;
j. Black face mask; and
k. Lock picking and burglary tools.
An initial appearance for Roske on the new indictment has not yet been scheduled, the DOJ also said.
Roske is alleged to have texted his sister from near Kavanaugh’s home, according to reports by the Washington Post, the New York Post, FOX News, CNN, and NBC’s Washington, D.C. affiliate.
“The gist of what we understand is that he told his sister what his plans were, that he did plan to come up and to basically kill Justice Kavanaugh,” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones told NBC’s WRC-TV. “But he also said in the midst of his overall plan, he was going to commit suicide as well. And so his sister did, I think, the most honorable thing. She convinced him to contact 911.”
The 911 calls were released late last week, as Law&Crime previously reported. In the calls, Roske claimed he had left his gun in a suitcase and that he needed “psychiatric help.”
The full text of the indictment is below:
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