Psychologist preparing Mitchell evaluation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal prosecutor said Thursday that a forensic psychologist needs six weeks to prepare a competency evaluation for the man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart.

At a U.S. District Court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Lambert said Dr. Michael Wellner, of New York City, conducted two days of interviews with Brian David Mitchell this week. Lambert said he expects an analysis from Wellner by mid-June.

U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba set a hearing on the findings for June 18.

If Wellner finds Mitchell is competent, prosecutors will seek a date for a full competency hearing.

But if Wellner finds Mitchell incompetent, Lambert says he'll seek a "Sell" hearing -- a process established by a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is used to determine whether Mitchell could be forcibly medicated.

Under the decision, prosecutors must prove a compelling interest is at stake and that medicating the defendant would further that interest. The medication must also be shown not to harm the individual or prevent him from defending himself.

Prosecutors and public defenders disagree about whether Mitchell can participate in his own defense. The slight and gray-bearded Mitchell, 55, has often disrupted court proceedings by singing hymns and once shouted that a judge should "repent."

Smart was 14 in June 2002 when she was abducted at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom in the middle of the night.

Mitchell and his estranged wife and co-defendant, Wanda Barzee, were arrested in March 2003 while walking with Smart on the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb.

Mitchell suffers from a rare delusional disorder. He has twice been found incompetent in state court where he is charged with multiple felonies related to the Smart kidnapping.

Last year, 3rd District Court Judge Judith Atherton refused to order forced medication. Atherton said she was not convinced that anti-psychotic medications would restore Mitchell's competency.

Mitchell was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2008 on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor.

Between December 2008 and February of this year, Mitchell was evaluated by a psychologist at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo. The findings were provided to Alba in February, but not made public.

Prosecutors sought the evaluation by Wellner because they plan to use him as an expert witness in the competency hearing.

Utah first used the Sell hearing process in Barzee's state case. Forcible medication was ordered for Barzee last year.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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