BANGOR – A Florida man was delusional during a court-ordered examination performed three days after he acted paranoid and claimed to have dynamite aboard a trans-Atlantic flight, forcing the airplane to be diverted to Maine, a psychologist testified Wednesday.

Derek Stansberry was suffering from a “psychotic break” from reality and exhibiting symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, believing that jail staff had injected him with drugs, Dr. Bruce Kerr told a federal magistrate via phone. Kerr said that at the time Stansberry was unable to assist in his defense.

But Stansberry has since made a turnaround.

Public defender Virginia Villa said Wednesday her client is now lucid and rational, willing to share information and able to assist in his defense.

A federal magistrate judge ruled after questioning Stansberry that’s he’s competent to proceed, but a detention hearing was delayed until Friday.

Prosecutors say the 26-year-old Stansberry passed a note to the flight crew that said he had a fake passport. When questioned by federal air marshals, he told them he had dynamite. The April 27 Paris-to-Atlanta flight ended up landing at Bangor International Airport.

It turns out that Stansberry’s travel papers were in order and there was no dynamite. He’s charged with false information and threats, and interfering with a flight crew.

The former intelligence specialist who left the Air Force with an honorable discharge had been working for a defense contractor in Africa and was returning to his home in Riverview, Fla.

Kerr, who met with Stansberry only once, said Stansberry told him he was intent on making sure his defense attorney made no reference in court to “classified information” that he possessed. He told Kerr that he wanted to prevent others from “connecting the dots.”

In court, however, Stansberry looked alert. He answered Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk’s questions with, “Yes, ma’am” or “No, ma’am,” and “Yes, your honor,” or “No, your honor.”

Stansberry said he understood the charges against him and was willing to cooperate with his attorney in explaining his actions on the plane. He said he would be willing to allow his attorney to bring up his explanation of the alleged “classified information.”

After the hearing, Stansberry was returned to federal custody.


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.