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Psychiatrist Examining Kaczynski Completes Report on His Competency

January 18, 1998|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A psychiatrist who received a one-day extension to recommend whether Theodore Kaczynski is competent to stand trial completed her report on the Unabomber suspect Saturday, the court clerk said.

The document will remain under seal to the public, although a hearing scheduled for Tuesday could reveal its basic conclusions.

Prison psychiatrist Dr. Sally Johnson, who also examined presidential assailant John Hinckley Jr. and televangelist Jim Bakker, spent about 20 hours with Kaczynski this past week in the Sacramento County Jail.

Court clerk Jack Wagner said Johnson notified U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. that the report was to be delivered to him Saturday night. Johnson, whose report was originally due Friday, had been granted a one-day extension.

Burrell will make the final determination on the 55-year-old former math professor's competency to face trial for four Unabomber attacks, two of them fatal. Kaczynski could be sentenced to death if convicted.

The judge is expected to rely heavily on the report by Johnson, chief of psychiatric services at the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina. On Tuesday, the judge will meet with prosecutors and defense attorneys to decide whether to hold a formal competency hearing Thursday.

If Kaczynski is found incompetent, he will be held in a federal psychiatric facility until he is deemed competent to stand trial. A finding that he is competent, however, will trigger another series of decisions.

One could be resumption of plea bargain talks, which have stalled over Kaczynski's demands that he not be placed in a psychiatric prison and that he retain certain appeal rights.

If the trial goes ahead, Kaczynski has asked to represent himself in protest of the mental illness defense planned by his attorneys, Quin Denvir and Judy Clarke.

Burrell will have to rule whether to force the attorneys to drop that defense and remain on the case, allow Kaczynski to represent himself, or bring in new defense counsel.

The judge has also warned that he will raise a new issue regarding Kaczynski and his attorneys Tuesday.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have reversed their position on whether Kaczynski should be allowed to hire a new attorney, saying they now support bringing in another attorney if Denvir and Clarke leave the case.

If all the issues are ironed out in time, the judge has tentatively set opening statements in the trial for 10 a.m. Thursday.

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