FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The man accused in a deadly shooting rampage inside Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is mentally competent to stand trial, according to a court record posted Monday night. The court record also states Esteban Santiago is expected to change his plea to guilty, during his competency hearing on May 23.
A federal judge overseeing the case ordered the mental health evaluation on May 1, right after lawyers said they reached a deal for the guilty plea. Judge Beth Bloom wanted to make sure he understands what he is doing and is legally competent to plead guilty.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The exact terms of the plea agreement are not expected to become public until the hearing.
Santiago is accused of killing five people and injuring six others when he opened fire in a baggage area of the airport in January 2017.
After the shooting, the FBI says Santiago told agents he acted under government mind control, then claimed inspiration by Islamic State extremists. No terrorist links were found.
Santiago, a National Guard Iraq war veteran, was briefly hospitalized in Alaska about two months before the airport shooting after complaining of mental problems but was released with no restrictions on possessing a gun.