Bartender who threatened Boehner not guilty by reason of insanity

Michael Hoyt found not guilty

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The federal case against the man charged with threatening to poison and shoot United State Speaker John Boehner is over. Federal agents charged Michael Hoyt with one count of threatening to kill a federal official last year. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity during a hearing in Cincinnati today.

Hoyt's remained in federal custody since his arrest Oct. 29, 2014. Federal psychologists performed multiple mental evaluations on Hoyt during his detainment and found he suffers from bi-polar disorder and psychosis.

During the hearing, Hoyt's defense team admitted to the government's "stipulation of facts" he did threaten Boehner's life in October 2014, but because of Hoyt's mental state, he had no way to determine right from wrong.

Hoyt initially told Deer Park Police he wanted to kill Boehner because he believed he was Jesus Christ and the Speaker was the devil. The indictment shows Hoyt also believed Boehner was responsible for the Ebola outbreak and wanted to poison Boehner's drink. Court records show Hoyt also told investigators he wanted to murder Boehner by shooting him with a .380 handgun.

Hoyt worked as a bartender at the Wetherington Country Club in West Chester, which is inside a gated community off Interstate 75 where Boehner lives. Hoyt was fired on Oct. 29.

During Monday's hearing, Hoyt and his defense team agreed with the judge's decision to find Hoyt "not guilty only by reason of insanity," Black said as he handed down his decision during the bench trial.

Hoyt faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 if convicted.


U.S. District Judge Timothy Black read excerpts of Hoyt's forensic examination during Monday's hearing. In the report, doctors found Hoyt's suffered from mental illnesses since 2012 when he was hit from behind at a bar and knocked out, Black read from the report.

Doctors performed an MRI on Hoyt after the assault and did not find any apparent damage to Hoyt's brain. But, the judge read statements in the report that show Hoyt's father reported his son began experiencing "paranoid" conduct after the attack.

Examiners placed Hoyt under evaluation in 2012 for three days and determined he was suffering from a psychotic disorder and prescribed medication to treat him. The report stated Hoyt's father told investigators his son stopped taking his medication in early 2014 and reverted back to his mental conditions of 2012.

During 2014, Hoyt's father told officials his son was hallucinating, seeing demonic images and at one point Hoyt told his evaluators that he heard the devil speaking to him.

Hoyt was taken to a federal psychiatric facility for further evaluation after his arrest in October 2014. Doctors there, according to the judge, found Hoyt was "polite and low key." The reason: Hoyt was receiving treatment and taking medication to treat his mental illness, Black said in court.


"I don't struggle with this at all," Black told both sides as the hearing started. "This is a complicated case. It's a sad case," Black said. The judge was referring to the central issue in the case dealing with a man suffering from a mental illness and not having the ability to reason right or wrong.

"At the time of this incident Mr. Hoyt was insane," Black said, "and was unable to appreciate the nature, quality and wrongness of his act."

During the hearing, Black made several references to the need for the public to understand and be aware of the issues surrounding mental illness in the United States. The judge noted that only about half of people with mental disorders in the U.S. receive treatment and incarceration offers little treatment options for those affected.

The judge indicated he those facts into account in reaching his decision in the case.

Hoyt's conduct in October 2014 and the months before the threat, Black said, was not "behavior by choice" and noted that the forensic report clearly shows Hoyt was ill at the time he threatened to kill Speaker Boehner.

"I'm trying to balance the public safety and trying to help the weakest among us," Black said, referencing a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.

An hour into the hearing, Black found Hoyt "not guilty only by reason of insanity."

The verdict requires Hoyt to be held and undergo further evaluation of his current mental state. Black ordered Hoyt into the custody of the U.S. Attorney General. A hearing is required within 40 days of the verdict, but Black indicated he could extend the time line for that hearing if the evaluation was not completed in time.

That hearing would allow Black to determine whether Hoyt can be released with treatment. The judge indicated several times throughout the hearing that Hoyt is "stabilized and doing well" since receiving treatment for his mental illness during his detention.

Black set that hearing date for August 21.

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