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Hearing set in January for man on missing child claim

Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 17:12:26-04

CINCINNATI (AP) — A 24-year-old man authorities say claimed to be a long-missing child is competent to stand trial, a judge found Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett scheduled a Jan. 8, 2020, status conference in the case of Brian Michael Rini, of Medina, Ohio. A June trial was postponed after questions were raised about his competence. Rini has pleaded not guilty .

His federal public defender didn't respond immediately Thursday to a message seeking comment.

Rini was spotted April 3 wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky, where police say he claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, an Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared in 2011 at age 6. Authorities said Rini told them he escaped captors who sexually abused him.

Federal authorities said they were suspicious after he refused to be fingerprinted. DNA testing quickly revealed his true identity. Rini had been released from a state prison in March after serving more than a year on burglary and vandalism charges. Prison records show he was accused of making up stories during his time there.

When confronted with the DNA results, Rini said he'd watched a story about Timmothy on ABC's "20/20" and wanted to get away from his own family, the FBI said. Authorities said he twice earlier portrayed himself in Ohio as a juvenile victim of sex trafficking.

Rini has been held without bond since his arrest. A federal magistrate had cited Rini's lack of a permanent address, past mental health issues and "a lengthy criminal history" that goes back to age 13. In 2017, Rini was treated at an Ohio center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.

He could face eight years in prison if convicted of aggravated identity theft and lying to FBI agents.

Timmothy's relatives have said they hope the publicity surrounding Rini's claim and arrest will generate new leads and could lead to the youngster's disappearance finally being solved.