A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon (2:30) in eastern Iowa for the man accused of planting mailbox pipebombs in 2002. 24-year-old Luke Helder has been undergoing psychological tests for many months in his home state of Minnesota. Today’s hearing will be between a federal judge and other officials in Cedar Rapids discussing with Helder’s doctors whether he’s competent to stand trial. The so-called “status conference” will be done over the phone and Helder will not be present. He’s charged with planting 18 bombs in rural mailboxes in Iowa and four other states. Several exploded, injuring six people. He claimed he was trying to make a smiley face on the map with the explosions — Helder’s attorney says she’ll use the insanity defense if he ever goes to trial.
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