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Judge rules mentally disabled Colorado man fit for trial in Montana oil patch murder case

A judge says a mentally disabled Colorado man is fit to stand trial in the killing of a Montana teacher who disappeared after she went jogging in the Bakken oil patch.

District Judge Richard Simonton in a Friday ruling cited testimony from a state psychiatrist that the mental disabilities suffered by 25-year-old Michael Keith Spell are not so severe to make him incompetent.

Spell is charged with the attempted kidnapping and murder of 43-year-old Sherry Arnold. The Sidney High School math teacher disappeared in January 2012 after going out for a morning jog.

Her body was found more than two months later in a shallow grave in a rural area of North Dakota.

Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty against Spell.

A co-defendant already has pleaded guilty.

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