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Dates Set for Smart Suspects' Competency Hearing

Dates Set for Smart Suspects' Competency Hearing

Posted - Jun. 16, 2004 at 2:04 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A mental competency hearing has been scheduled for one of the two people accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.

Third District Judge Judith Atherton on Wednesday set Brian David Mitchell's competency hearing for Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

Atherton also on Wednesday scheduled an Aug. 3 hearing to determine whether the three-day competency proceedings will be closed to the public.

At that hearing, attorneys for The Associated Press and other media and Mitchell's attorneys will meet in a closed session in Atherton's chambers to hear evidence on Mitchell's argument that media should be banned from the competency hearing.

Kimberly Clark, Mitchell's lead attorney, has said the evidence would expose prejudicial information about her client that would hurt Mitchell's chances for a fair trial if he were found mentally competent. He faces several first-degree felony charges arising from then-14-year-old Elizabeth's disappearance on June 5, 2002.

Mitchell, 50, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 58, are charged with kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping.

The couple are also charged in the attempted abduction of Elizabeth's cousin seven weeks after Elizabeth's kidnapping.

Mitchell and Barzee allegedly kept Elizabeth as Mitchell's second wife for nine months in Utah and California before they were found March 12 in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Barzee was declared incompetent to stand trial in January. Her first competency review was delayed until June 28 because she could not immediately be transferred to Utah State Hospital for treatment and evaluation.

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

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