Defense attorneys for the man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart say a psychiatrist's report deeming him competent for trial is advocacy, not an objective evaluation of facts.
In U.S. District Court filings released late Thursday, defense attorneys criticize Dr. Michael Welner, saying he relied only on data or evaluations that supported his own opinions.
Welner, who was paid $400,000 by federal prosecutors, concluded Brian David Mitchell suffers from multiple mental disorders but is competent for trial. His report suggests the former street preacher is exaggerating or feigning symptoms of illnesses to avoid prosecution.
Mitchell, 55, has twice been ruled incompetent since Smart was found in March 2003, walking a suburban street with him and his now-estranged wife. Those findings stalled a state court case, where Mitchell is charged with multiple felonies, including kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
Mitchell was indicted in 2008 by a federal grand jury on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor, and faces a 10-day competency hearing that begins Nov. 30.
Defense attorneys don't want Welner's report deeming Mitchell competent used as evidence at the hearing, saying mischaracterizations and omissions make the evaluation unreliable.
Defense arguments focus on four elements of Welner's evaluation: Mitchell's periods of silence, or "word fasts," repeated hymn singing, an alleged escape plan from the hospital and Mitchell's statements about a corrupt judicial system.
For example, Welner relies on information from a hospital staffer who said Mitchell stopped talking only after hearing that another patient was deemed competent based on interactions with staff. Continued...