A Missouri man accused of terrorism in an incident that stopped an Amtrak train in southwest Nebraska last October may not have known what he was doing that night, his attorney said Tuesday.
Taylor M. Wilson, of St. Charles, Missouri, made his first court appearance in Nebraska federal court, and his attorney, Jerry Sena of Omaha, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
"It's possible he doesn't know what he was doing," Sena said.
Wilson was indicted Jan. 17 in Nebraska on one count of attempting to or threatening to wreck, derail and disable railroad on-track equipment and a mass transportation vehicle and one count alleging he attempted to interfere with, disable or incapacitate any locomotive engineer or railroad conductor.
Federal investigators allege Wilson, who was armed, breached a secure area of the passenger train Oct. 22 and was found in the engineer’s seat of the follow engine “playing with the controls."
The conductor and others subdued Wilson, then held him and waited for deputies from Furnas and Harlan counties to arrive in Oxford, 23 miles southwest of Holdrege.
None of the 175 people aboard the eastbound California Zephyr were injured.
In court Tuesday, Wilson said little beyond affirmative statements that he understood his constitutional rights.
After court, Sena wouldn't say explicitly what may have impaired Wilson mentally that night.
But Sena did tell reporters his client doesn't have a diagnosed mental illness.
FBI agents have alleged in court documents that Wilson has links to a white supremacist group and expressed an interest in "killing black people."
Sena said his client isn't a member of any white supremacist or neo-Nazi organization and online research of a hate group doesn't make someone a part of it.
During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Woods said Wilson is a danger to the public and a flight risk, so he should remain in jail before the case goes to trial in April.
Wilson's attorney asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart for a separate hearing to address pre-trial detention.
Wilson is being held at the Saline County jail in Wilber pending a hearing later in the week.
If convicted, he faces up to life imprisonment.
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