In a 149-page decision , U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said Mitchell can understand the charges against him and help his lawyers in his defense, the standard for mental competency.Associated Press, Oct. 1, 2009 report
He set a scheduling conference for March 26.
Kimball said Mitchell’s religious beliefs, which are shared by a small group of fundamentalist extremists, are not a sign that he is delusional. He also said there is significant evidence that Mitchell lacks empathy and has a pattern of sadism.
Mitchell could still raise an insanity defense at trial, which is a claim that he was unable to understand the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offense.
Mitchell, 56, is charged in federal court with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor for allegedly holding Smart captive for nine months and raping her repeatedly. Prosecutors say the self-proclaimed prophet wanted to make the teen his plural wife.
A state case accusing Mitchell of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary is on hold because a 3rd District judge found him incompetent to stand trial. Mitchell’s wife and co-defendant, Wanda Eileen Barzee, has pleaded guilty to charges in both state and federal court and agreed to testify against her husband.
New Research Reveals Secrets About Psychology of Polygamous Sects and Their Leaders
A judge ruled today that Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart, forcing her to be one of his multiple wives, and holding her between 2002 and 2003, is competent to stand trial.
Mitchell, 56, was declared psychotic and incompetent in Utah State Court in 2005, but Federal prosecutors, who indicted Mitchell in 2008, asked a U.S. District Court to conduct another competency trial.
Prosecutors asked forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and the chairman of The Forensic Panel, to examine Mitchell, a street preacher who has claimed to be a Mormon prophet.
To better understand the tenets of fundamentalist Mormon doctrines and practices and determine the differences between religion and psychosis, Welner analyzed the case histories of more than 60 leaders of American fundamentalist sects. He identified a number of psychiatric and justice issues distinct to polygamous and rejectionist sect leaders and followers and presented this research for the first time at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Seattle last week.
Welner, who is also a consultant to ABC News, shared his findings in a glimpse of the context he had to consider in evaluating Brian David Mitchell: