This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Brian David Mitchell is mentally incompetent to stand trial for the June 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, a 3rd District Court judge ruled Tuesday.
In a 60-page decision, Judge Judith Atherton said that although Mitchell has an ''adequate capacity'' to comprehend the charges against him, the possible penalties and the adversary nature of the proceedings, he fails the competency test in other areas.
Atherton said Mitchell has an impaired ability to communicate with his attorneys, engage in reasoned choice of legal strategies, manifest appropriate courtroom behavior and testify relevantly.
That means Mitchell, 51, will join his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, 59, at the Utah State Hospital for treatment aimed at making them well enough to face prosecution. Barzee has been at the hospital since March 2004.
During six days of hearings that began in February, Atherton listened to what she called ''radically different'' testimony from mental health experts.
Two experts claim Mitchell is so obsessed by religious delusions that he is unable to understand the legal process, form reasoned legal strategies or even communicate with his own defense team.
Another expert concedes that Mitchell's beliefs are extreme, but no more so than those held by the thousands of other Mormon fundamentalists who populate Utah's religious landscape.
Mitchell began each day's hearing by breaking into song, or yelling religious sayings and threats, forcing the judge to have him removed from the courtroom. His own attorneys said Mitchell had stopped communicating with them, except to sing.
On June 5, 2002, Mitchell allegedly kidnapped Elizabeth, then 14, from her Federal Heights home to make her the first of seven plural wives, according to prosecutors.
Nine months later, the girl was found in Sandy walking down a street with Mitchell and Barzee, who are charged with felony counts of burglary, kidnapping and sexual assault.