Accused Elizabeth Smart kidnapper may be competent -- or not

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SALT LAKE CITY -- One report claims Brian David Mitchell is competent to face trial for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart; another says he is not.

A federal judge may ultimately have to decide at a 10-day hearing later this year whether the accused kidnapper is mentally sound to stand trial on charges related to the 2002 abduction.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court on Thursday, government lawyers and Mitchell's defense team squabbled over the dueling reports.

"The government's position is the defendant is competent," U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba said after announcing he had received the 206-page report prepared by a forensic pathologist.

"The defendant's position is he is not," said Robert Steele, Mitchell's lawyer.

Mitchell has already been evaluated at a federal facility in Missouri.

Alba scheduled an Aug. 17 hearing to decide the next steps in the infamous kidnapping case, but it is expected a hearing will be held later this year on Mitchell's competency. That hearing could last 10 days. "I think the lines are clearly drawn," Steele said outside of court.

The hearing could set the stage for what has already played out in state court, where Mitchell was ultimately found incompetent, but a judge refused to forcibly medicate hm. It was then the federal government intervened, moving ahead with its prosecution of Mitchell for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and taking her across state lines.

Outside of court, Elizabeth's father Ed Smart said he believes Mitchell is competent. "I truly believe Mitchell knows what he's doing," he said Thursday.

He said his daughter is willing to testify at the hearing if it keeps Mitchell locked up. "She does not want to see him get out and be able to abuse another girl out there," he said.

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom back in 2002. She was missing for nine months before being found walking along State Street in Sandy in the company of Mitchell, a homeless street preacher, and his wife, Wanda Barzee.


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Ben Winslow


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