Kartchner Charged in Kidnapping

Kartchner Charged in Kidnapping

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A man suspected of kidnapping a 5-year-old Mapleton boy earlier this month has been charged with three felonies and may face two more.

Robert Allen Kartchner, 20, of Orem, was charged Friday with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and two counts of child abuse, both second-degree felonies. He also is being held on two counts of attempted kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, though those charges have not yet been filed in court.

He is being held in the Utah County Jail on $500,000 cash-only bail.

Authorities said the boy was kidnapped Oct. 9 while riding his scooter home from school Thursday afternoon.

He was driven 15 miles to the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon, where the abductor slowly cut the boy's arm, neck and thigh. Investigators said the assailant choked the boy with the remains of a T-shirt and then threw the child into the bushes and drove off.

A father and son who had been installing a fence in the area spotted the boy about 6:45 p.m. The child had managed to free his feet, but his hands were still bound with electrical tape. Philip and Eric Gardner of Enterprise took the boy to a nearby cabin and called 911.

Kartchner was arrested when he drove through the Diamond Fork area about 12:45 a.m. Oct. 10.

Kartchner admitted to the kidnapping after an hour of questioning, Utah County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

Kartchner shuffled into the courtroom for the first time Friday -- dressed in a red and blue jail uniform, his hands and feet shackled. After listening to the charges, Kartchner's attorney, Anthony Howell, submitted a motion to 4th District Judge Steven Hansen for Kartchner to undergo a mental competency evaluation.

The motion likely will be decided Oct. 22. Kartchner also will have a chance to tell the judge that day if he wants to go forward with a preliminary hearing, and it will be his first appearance on the two attempted kidnapping charges.

"It's our normal policy not to oppose competency evaluations," said Donna Kelly, a county prosecutor. "We may oppose this, I don't know yet."

There's quite a bit of evidence in all the cases to warrant an evaluation, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Wally Perschon. If the judge approves the request, Kartchner will probably be gone for 60 days for the evaluation at the Utah State Hospital.

"The competency evaluation buys us time and gives us insight," Perschon said.

The two attempted kidnapping allegations stem from June 2002 and March 2003 incidents. Two Provo boys involved in those incidents picked Kartchner out of a photo lineup, authorities said.

A probable cause statement written by Provo Police Detective. Hiatt Bean said that on June 18, 2002, Kartchner drove up to an 11-year-old boy on a scooter. He allegedly picked up the boy in a bear hug and walked back toward his van, the victim told police. The child struggled, and eventually Kartchner released him.

On March 4, 2003, police say Kartchner followed an 8-year-old boy from school. The boy told police Kartchner cornered him in a church parking lot and told him to get in the van. He ran away and hid in some bushes until Kartchner left.

The statement is sufficient to hold Kartchner in jail until relevant charges are filed in court, Hansen said.

All the cases will proceed together, Kelly said. The proceedings will take many months, though. Cases such as this can take six to nine months, without adding a mental competency evaluation. But because Kartchner is in jail, his case will be given priority over defendants not in jail.

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

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