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WEST JORDAN — A mentally ill man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 6-year-old girl five years ago is making "reasonable progress" toward being capable of facing the charges in court, according to a report given Tuesday.
Attorneys for Terry Lee Black, 46, informed the judge that after treatment at the Utah State Hospital, an evaluator has indicated Black is "making reasonable progress toward restoration."
Additional details about the evaluator's findings were not made public.
Black has been found incompetent — meaning he is unable to understand the charges against him or communicate with his attorneys as they defend him in court — in the case of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold's death. Black's competency must be "restored" before the case can proceed.
Black is accused of sneaking through a sliding-glass door into the girl's West Jordan home on June 26, 2012, and kidnapping her. Police say he carried Sierra off and raped her before drowning her in a canal.
Third District Judge Douglas Hogan agreed that Black should remain at the state hospital, thanking him for his efforts in his treatment. In response, Black only nodded and answered, "OK."
While Black could now potentially remain in custody at the state hospital for 18 months before additional action would need to be taken, attorneys on both sides agreed that the case should be reviewed again on Jan. 23, 2018.
Black is charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, as well as child kidnapping and rape of a child, first-degree felonies, in Sierra's abduction and killing. He is also charged with robbery and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, second-degree felonies, accused of robbing a West Jordan bank three days after Sierra's death.