A federal judge in North Dakota has granted a fifth trial delay for a flight attendant from Arizona accused of disrupting two SkyWest Airlines flights with bogus bomb threats, casting renewed doubt on whether the case will ever go before a jury.
Justin Cox-Sever's attorney recently asked for more time to prepare, and prosecutors didn't object. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland moved the Tempe man's trial from early August to early October, in federal court in Bismarck. Cox-Sever would face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme told The Associated Press earlier this year that a plea deal seems likely in the case, and after the most recent trial delay said "the status remains the same."
Neil Fulton, head of the federal public defender's office for the Dakotas, didn't comment on whether the repeated delays indicate a plea deal is in the works, but said defense attorneys "continue to evaluate all the options."
The trial originally was scheduled for last December. It was delayed to February, to April, to June, to August and now to October.
Cox-Sever is accused of fabricating bomb threats on a July flight from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Chicago, and on a September flight from Minneapolis to Dickinson, North Dakota. The first plane turned around mid-flight, and the second incident resulted in the temporary shutdown of the Dickinson airport.
Cox-Sever has pleaded not guilty in North Dakota to two charges of interfering with an aircraft. He faces three similar charges in Virginia but has yet to enter a plea, and there has been no activity in that case for more than five months.
Cox-Sever is no longer employed by SkyWest, though the airline won't say whether he quit or was fired.