- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A judge is set to consider whether a man charged with the death of a 6-year-old girl is mentally competent to stand trial on aggravated murder and other charges in a case that resumed Tuesday after nearly two years on hold.

Lawyers for Terry Lee Black, 44, have raised questions about his mental state, and Judge Douglas Hogan is expected to receive the results of a psychological evaluation shortly, said his lawyer, McCaye Christianson. Black appeared in court Monday in a yellow jail jumpsuit, with long hair tied back and appearing much thinner than he did at his last court hearing in 2013.

He’s charged with the death of Sierra Newbold, who was abducted from her home in June 2012. Prosecutors say he beat, raped and choked the girl before throwing her in a canal, where she drowned. Black has not yet entered a plea in the case.

Prosecutor Robert Stott says that the girl’s family is glad to see the case resuming. “They’re just amazed how long this has taken,” he said.

Black is due back in court on Oct. 22, though no decision is expected on whether he’s competent.

Black could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of aggravated murder, child kidnapping and child rape. Stott declined to say whether the state would seek capital punishment.

He was arrested three days after the girl’s death, accused of robbing a West Jordan bank using a stolen car. Investigators said he attended the same congregation as the Newbold family in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his apartment was near the canal where she was found.

Police said they had home surveillance video of someone entering the Newbold house through a sliding glass door, and they linked Black to the crime by matching debris on his clothing to a fire-blackened field where Sierra’s clothing was found.

The case has been hold since his lawyers said the judge was biased and appealed to the Utah Supreme Court for a new one.

A lawyer for Black told the high court that Judge Mark Kouris scolded defense attorneys for nine minutes, ridiculing and mocking him after they asked for a delay to determine whether Black was mentally competent to stand trial. Prosecutors contended that Kouris had reason to be exasperated when lawyers asked for the delay just before the preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin, more than a year after the girl’s death.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled in July that the issue is moot because Kouris has already been transferred.

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