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Mar 1, 2010 3:04 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Judge: Man competent for trial in Elizabeth Smart case

A federal judge says the man charged in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart is competent to stand trial. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled Monday that 56-year-old Brian David Mitchell does not suffer from a mental disease or defect that harms his ability to understand the proceedings against him.

The ruling follows a 10-day competency hearing held last year. Experts who testified split in their opinions about Mitchell's competency. Mitchell's defense attorneys have argued that the former street preacher could not participate in his own defense.

Mitchell was indicted in 2008 on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines. Smart was 14 in 2002 when she was kidnapped from her home.

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