SALT LAKE CITY – A judge has ordered a new competency evaluation for the man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba ruled Wednesday that the evaluation of Brian David Mitchell should be conducted at a federal detention facility outside Utah.
Alba said he reviewed filings from the U.S. attorney's office, Mitchell's federal public defenders and transcripts and reports from state competency proceedings to reach his decision.
"There is no question that there is reasonable cause to believe a cumulative evaluation is needed," the judge said.
Under federal statutes, doctors will have 30 days to evaluate Mitchell and prepare a report, however Alba said he expects the process to take up to 90 days.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will decide whether Mitchell is sent to a facility in Springfield, Mo., or near Los Angeles, Utah's U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said. At either facility, Mitchell will be watched around the clock.
Mitchell's competency was last evaluated in 2004 for the Elizabeth Smart state court case, in which he is charged with multiple felonies, including aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
In that evaluation, experts were split — two said Mitchell was competent and two said he was not.
Tolman said the federal prison system staff includes several medical experts who have dedicated "major portions of their careers" to studying and working with patients who suffer from Mitchell's diagnosed delusional disorder.
"We hope that will allow for them to take this difficult, difficult question and evaluate it quickly, effective and that we can get this advanced as soon as possible," Tolman.
Mitchell's attorney, Steve Killpack, argued that Mitchell should stay in Utah where doctors are already familiar with his case and so that defense attorneys can attempt to establish an attorney-client relationship.
Mitchell suffers from a rare delusional disorder and was twice found incompetent to stand trial by a state court judge. He was in court on Wednesday and, as with past appearances, was removed from the hearing by U.S. Marshals after he began to sing a hymn.
"We have no reason to think that he is anything but incompetent and not reality-based," Killpack told Alba at the start of the hearing.
Alba also ordered that Killpack and other defense attorneys be given access to Mitchell during the evaluation process.
Mitchell is currently being held at the Utah State Hospital
Mitchell was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor. Federal prosecutors sought the indictment after a state judge denied a request to have Mitchell forcibly medicated in an attempt to restore his competency.
Smart was 14 in June 2002 when she was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint. She was found in March 2003, walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife Wanda Eileen Barzee.
Barzee, who was also found incompetent for trial in state court, has also been indicted on federal charges. Tolman has not sought custody of Barzee to begin the case, but said he's evaulating that situation on "a daily basis."
A judge has ordered Barzee be forced to take antipsychotic medications, a process that began in June. It's unclear what effect, if any, the drugs have had.
"We're hopeful that some of the efforts at the state hospital are advancing the ball with respect to Miss Barzee," Tolman said. "We hope that competency can be achieved in both instances so that a final resolution of this case can be done."