By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A federal judge has ordered an Ohio man charged with soliciting the murders of U.S. military personnel after professing support for Islamic State to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
At a hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland ordered the examination of Terrence McNeil, after the defendant appeared amused when told he could face life in prison without parole if convicted.
"You find that funny?" the judge asked McNeil, according to a transcript.
"No, I don't find it funny," McNeil answered. "I just don't understand it. I don't understand why I'm here in the first place."
Polster later expressed concern about McNeil's competence, and whether the defendant fully understood the charges and could help with his defense.
The hearing was earlier reported and a copy of the transcript was posted at (http://www.cleveland.com).
McNeil, of Akron, pleaded not guilty in December to three counts each of soliciting a crime of violence and threatening military personnel.
Prosecutors said McNeil posted the names and addresses of 100 U.S. military personnel online and asked others to kill them on behalf of the militant Islamist group Islamic State, to which he had professed support on social media.
Nathan Ray, a lawyer for McNeil, declined to comment on Tuesday.
Ray had on Monday asked the judge to set a trial date, saying that a court-appointed expert had examined McNeil over a couple of days, and that there was "no question on the issue of competency."
The case is U.S. v. McNeil, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, No. 15-cr-00446.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)