A federal judge appointed a prison psychiatrist Friday to determine whether Theodore Kaczynski is competent to stand trial, then sternly warned the Unabomber suspect to cooperate.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke assured U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. that Kaczynski would cooperate. The defendant nodded vigorously in agreement.
Dr. Sally Johnson, recommended by the federal Bureau of Prisons, has a week to examine Kaczynski and file a report.
Johnson, chief of psychiatric services at the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina, also evaluated presidential assailant John Hinckley Jr. and former televangelist Jim Bakker.
Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate President Reagan in 1981 and severely wounded his press secretary, Jim Brady, was found innocent by reason of insanity. Bakker was found competent to stand trial and was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges.
Johnson indicated to the judge she could have a report to the court by Jan. 16. Both sides would examine the report and tell Burrell by Jan. 20 whether they will require additional witnesses. The competency hearing was set for Jan. 22.
If the hearing appears uncomplicated, Burrell said, he will call the jury in on the same day for opening statements.
The examination will take place in the Sacramento County jail. Burrell warned Kaczynski to cooperate with Johnson.
“If he’s not going to cooperate, he will be on a plane and I will fly him to a psychiatric institution immediately,” Burrell said.
“It is our firm belief that Mr. Kaczynski will cooperate with the competency exam and will do so locally,” Clarke said.
Burrell also said he had heard of Kaczynski’s apparent suicide attempt only after Thursday’s hearing, at which the Unabomber suspect asked to represent himself. He said that reinforced his decision to hold a competency hearing.
“When you have that kind of an allegation, along with the situation that occurred yesterday in my courtroom, the judge is mandated to do exactly what I did,” Burrell said.
Burrell ruled Friday that Johnson’s report on Kaczynski will be sealed, though the hearing on the matter will be open.
Kaczynski, 55, is charged with being the serial bomber whose explosive devices killed three people and injured 23 others between 1978 and 1995. If convicted of the bombing that killed California Forestry Association president Gilbert Murray in 1995, he could face the death penalty.