SALT LAKE CITY – The man charged in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart has a narcissistic personality disorder but has been competent to stand trial since his 2003 arrest, a psychiatrist testified Thursday.
Dr. Noel Gardner evaluated Brian David Mitchell in 2003 as part of a state case against him. Gardner said he concluded then that Mitchell was "clearly competent."
"Mr. Mitchell does not now and never had a psychotic mental illness," Gardner said in U.S. District Court at a federal competency hearing for Mitchell.
The hearing is intended to determine whether Mitchell, 56, can stand trial on federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines. It is scheduled to last through Dec. 11.
Mitchell has been diagnosed with a rare delusional disorder and was twice deemed incompetent for trial in the state case. In 2005, a Utah judge ordered him held at a state hospital that works to restore the competency of mentally ill defendants.
Mitchell's defense attorneys say the former street preacher is still unable to participate in his defense.
Gardner, a forensic expert in psychiatric cases who has worked in hospitals, doesn't believe Mitchell is schizophrenic or suffers from a delusional disorder.
Mitchell's unwillingness to cooperate with evaluators and attorneys should not be interpreted as evidence of mental illness, he said.
Gardner has reviewed interviews with Mitchell and the report of another psychiatrist and determined Mitchell meets "every legal requirement for competency independent of whether he has a mental disease or disorder."
During a 2003 interview, Mitchell "did not say a word at all. He stared directly into my eyes with great intensity. ... It's something I have never seen a psychotic patient do," Gardner said.
Cross-examination of Gardner was expected later in the day.
Mitchell was not in the courtroom Thursday. Judge Dale Kimball said he had asked not to be there. In the first three days of the hearing, Mitchell was promptly removed from the courtroom after breaking out in song.
He is able to watch and hear the proceedings from elsewhere in the building.
Smart was 14 when she was taken from her home at knifepoint in June 2002. She was found in March 2003 walking a suburban street with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
Smart, now 22, has not attended the current proceedings but gave testimony in October, saying she was raped after a marriage ceremony staged by Mitchell.
FBI agent George Dougherty, who interviewed Mitchell after his arrest, has testified that Mitchell was careful and calculated. Leslie Miles, a psychiatric nurse, told the judge she believed Mitchell faked psychiatric symptoms and behaviors to avoid prosecution.
The defense is expect to present its case next week.
A ruling by Kimball was not immediately expected when the hearing ends. His eventual decision will determine if the case proceeds to trial or Mitchell is returned to treatment that might restore his competency.