It appears so-called "serial stowaway" Marilyn Hartman’s long, troubling journey through the criminal court system in Cook County, Illinois, is about to enter its final chapter.
Hartman, looking haggard and confused, appeared this morning before Cook County Judge William Raines, where she agreed to a mental examination, which may lead to a guilty plea when she next appears in court Nov. 3.
Officially, Hartman is charged in her current case only with her most recent attempt to get past security at a Chicago airport, a July 4 incident at O'Hare. But prior to that, starting last April, Hartman had five other encounters with airport security, four at O'Hare and one at Midway. In two of those, she received warnings and was escorted off airport property. The other three resulted in arrests.
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Cook County prosecutors previously made clear they intended to put Hartman on trial, an almost certain conviction scenario. Hartman was told in court that she faced a year behind bars. At a prior hearing, Raines ruled that authorities would be allowed to put officers on the stand to discuss prior encounters and warnings she had received.
But today, the judge, prosecutors and Hartman’s court-appointed public defender adjourned to chambers. Afterward, Hartman was advised that if she would consent to the evaluation, all would return in two weeks to determine, as Raines said, "How we can better help you."
Across America, Hartman has tried repeatedly to get past security and stow away on airplanes, and it’s believed she’s succeeded at least three times. Her methods of actually getting aboard aircraft are not entirely clear. But security videos of previous attempts depicted the casual way the 63-year-old grandmotherly figure attempted to slip past the TSA.
In one video from Minneapolis, recorded Jan. 9, Hartman was observed in the TSA security line, attempting to blend in with the man in front of her, as if she were his traveling companion. As his ID and boarding pass were checked, Hartman slipped past the agent. But that TSA officer spotted her, and demanded to see her documents. She was then seen fumbling in her purse, and then eventually, slipping back into the terminal.
The attempt was thwarted, and airport police spotted Hartman sleeping on the airport’s mezzanine level about an hour later. Security cameras showed officers, who recognized Hartman, checking her identification and taking her away in handcuffs.
When Hartman was arrested last year in Phoenix, even she seemed amazed at what she had managed to do time and time again.
"Why has the government allowed me to get past security points until I forced the issue back in February?" she asked. "And pretty much had to beg to be arrested?"
Getting arrested is something Hartman does very well. When she was discovered in a vacant room at a Nassau County Florida resort a month after the Twin Cities incident, Hartman told investigators she had flown in that day aboard an aircraft on which she had stowed away at the Minneapolis airport. The TSA has disputed that claim.
Hartman was advised during Monday’s hearing that accommodations would be made to get her fitted with a new pair of glasses, a replacement for a pair which was reportedly broken during her stay at Cook County Jail.