Conflicting Opinions on Whether Mitchell is Competent

Conflicting Opinions on Whether Mitchell is Competent

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- A difference of opinion is emerging today about whether Brian David Mitchell is competent to stand trial in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case.

At a status hearing before Third District Judge Judith Atherton, it was learned that two different medical professionals can't agree on Mitchell's competence.

That leaves the judge with three options.

One is to bring the two doctors in for a competency hearing -- and from that decide whether Mitchell is competent to stand trial.

A second option is the appointment of a third mental health expert. That person would act as the court's liaison and tell the judge whether the process the two doctors used to reach their differing opinions is medically valid.

The third option is to order another expert to evaluate Mitchell -- a process that could take six months.

Atherton said she would decide before December First.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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