CHICAGO (AP) – Attorneys for a white supremacist accused of soliciting the murder of a federal judge said Thursday a key federal witness may be mentally ill and should undergo a competency hearing before he’s allowed to testify.

U.S. District Judge James T. Moody said he would wait until early next week to take up the request concerning Jon Fox, a longtime associate of Matthew Hale.

Hale, 32, a white supremacist leader from East Peoria, is charged with obstruction of justice and soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.

Defense attorneys Thomas Anthony Durkin and Patrick W. Blegen filed the motion as Moody questioned potential jurors for Hale’s trial, which is expected to take two to three weeks.

By day’s end, eight jurors had been selected. Moody plans to pick four more jurors and four alternates before opening statements, which attorneys expected to begin next week.

Hale, who prosecutors say was furious with Lefkow because she ruled against him in a 2002 trademark dispute, is charged partly on the basis of secretly made tapes of a conversation with an FBI informant. He’s also charged based on statements made by Fox.

The defense attorneys say the FBI informant was the only one on the tapes urging violence, and that Fox has disclosed to the government he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Along with a government memo concerning Fox’s mental state, the defense filed a police report Thursday from Minot, N.D., in which an officer said he tried to question Fox about an altercation.

The officer said Fox became “highly agitated” and retreated to the basement of his home, according to the report.

When the officer followed Fox, “he had stripped off his clothes and he was standing naked in the basement and he stated he knew he was coming with me and he just needed to change his clothes.” Fox was later sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined $200.

Defense attorneys said lithium had been prescribed for Fox, but there was some indication he may not have been taking his medicine.

Fox was a member of Hale’s group, formerly known as The World Church of the Creator. Lefkow ordered the group to stop using that name because it was trademarked by an Oregon-based religious organization that has no ties to Hale and does not share his views.

For the second straight day, Hale appeared in court in a bright orange prison jumpsuit, despite a warning from Moody on Wednesday that wearing prison garb rather than street clothes could hurt him in the eyes of the jurors.

Hale organized an anti-Somali gathering in Lewiston, Maine, last year, but only 32 people showed up.

while more than 4,000 people gathered at a counter-rally urging Mainers to reject racism and embrace the state’s new wave of immigrants. Hale’s arrest came a few days before the Lewiston rally, and he didn’t attend because he was in jail.

AP-ES-04-08-04 2023EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.