Kaczynski competent to stand trial

  Martin Kasindorf; Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 01A

  (Copyright 1998)


  SACRAMENTO -- Plea negotiations in the Unabomber case reopened late

  Tuesday after Theodore Kaczynski was found mentally competent to stand trial

  earlier in the day.


  Still undecided is who will defend Kaczynski.


  Judge Garland Burrell Jr. said he will rule Thursday, the day the trial is to open,

  whether Kaczynski or his court-appointed lawyers would control the defense



  The judge indicated he was not inclined to allow Kaczynski to represent himself

  or to change lawyers.


  The Justice Department resumed talks with Kaczynski's lawyers about a plea deal

  after the competency decision.


  His lawyers have asked the government to drop its death penalty demand in

  return for a guilty plea and a life sentence.


  Kaczynski has strongly opposed his lawyers' plans to use a defense of mental



  Federal prison psychiatrist Sally Johnson filed a 47-page competency report

  Saturday after examining Kaczynski that said Kaczynski was capable of

  understanding the charges and aiding in his defense, the only criteria for a

  declaration of competency.


  Prosecutors and defense agreed, eliminating the need for the judge to rule.


  The Associated Press reported Johnson diagnosed Kaczynski as a paranoid

  schizophrenic; symptoms can include delusions of persecution.


  Kaczynski, 55, is accused of being the Unabomber who killed three people and

  injured 29 others during an 18-year anti-technology campaign.


  He pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty.


  The competency exam was ordered after Kaczynski apparently attempted suicide

  and then sought to handle his own defense.


  Prosecutors want the judge to order the defense laywers to follow Kaczynski's

  wishes or appoint new lawyers.


  Burrell was wary of substituting counsel and also suggested Kaczynski's request

  to represent himself had come too late. "We're not in a pretrial hearing," Burrell

  said. "We're in trial."