Mitchell's singing gets him removed from courtroom

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Team coverageA judge has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the man accused in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart.

Brian David Mitchell made his second appearance in federal court this morning after making a spectacle of himself during the first one earlier this week, and again he sang in court.

Mitchell is facing federal kidnapping charges in connection with the abduction of Elizabeth Smart more than six years ago. Mental competency issues have kept him from standing trial in state courts.

On Monday, Mitchell had to be bound and gagged after he started singing religious hymns and refused to stop.

Today, Mitchell was allowed back into court because the judge wanted to give him every opportunity to cooperate with the proceedings, but as soon as Mitchell entered the room, he started singing the hymn "Be Still My Soul" and continued singing as the judge entered the courtroom.

The judge asked the defense attorney if Mitchell would be quiet, and the attorney said no. So, Mitchell was taken to a separate room from which he could watch the proceedings.

U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman says it's not uncommon to see outbursts like this from men who have committed these types of crimes. He says, "Nobody should assume, just because an individual sings in the courtroom or doesn't want to participate in a hearing that they are incompetent. That's for someone else to make an evaluation."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba entered the plea Friday in federal court for Brian David Mitchell.

Mitchell's competency is still in question, and further competency evaluations were the focus of the hearing today.

On Monday, Mitchell's lawyer filed a motion to have his competency tested again. Today the defense filed a motion saying they want Mitchell to go back to the state hospital where he has been evaluated in the past.

"His prior competency evaluation took place nearly four years ago. There's been little, if any, treatment since," Tolman said.

Alba ordered prosecutors to turn over documents from state proceedings related to Mitchell's competency. The judge set a Nov. 12 hearing date to rule on whether the court needs to order another competency evaluation for Mitchell, who was twice found incompetent to stand trial by a state court judge.

A trial date has been set for Dec. 22.


(The Associated Press contributed to this story. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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