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Ruling Delayed on Access to Mitchell's Competency Hearing

Ruling Delayed on Access to Mitchell's Competency Hearing

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- A judge has delayed a hearing on whether to open a competency hearing for the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.

The decision postpones a hearing that was set for next week on the question of media access. Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, want the proceedings open.

The defense seeks to keep the hearing closed on the grounds that the evidence would expose prejudicial information that would hurt Brian David Mitchell's chances if he were found mentally competent to stand trial.

But an attorney for The Salt Lake Tribune says the media has a right to participate in the hearing, which is scheduled for May fourth.

Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee are accused of kidnapping Smart from her bedroom in June 2002. Barzee has been declared incompetent to stand trial.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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