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A judge will think about releasing the mental health records of the suspect in a murder and rape only if prosecutors can gather evidence that the man was violent or abusive in his youth.

Prosecutors are seeking the mental history of Michael Scott DeCorso to help them establish a possible motive for the crimes he is accused of committing. They also want the records to prepare for a possible insanity defense.The former Midvale firefighter is charged with murder in the stabbing death of Margaret Ann Martinez at a Payless Shoesource store last year. He also faces sodomy, rape, kidnapping, burglary and attempted murder charges in two other incidents.

Investigators must now find witnesses who can testify to a pattern of behavior or mental illness that may have emerged in DeCorso's alleged crimes before the judge will make a decision about the records.

Prosecutor Kent Morgan first learned of the records from an official representing Valley Mental Health, who told him a juvenile court had referred DeCorso for treatment when he was 12 years old.

Third District Judge Pat B. Brian has read the records in chamber but gave no indication in a hearing Monday about their content. He instructed Morgan to find "anything that rises above the dignity of speculation" to support the state's request for access.

That means Morgan and investigators will now turn to childhood friends and neighbors for evidence that could convince the judge a pattern of illness or abuse existed in DeCorso's youth and that such a pattern may be reflected in the recent crimes DeCorso's been charged with.

"They've said he is either the nicest guy you've ever met or the meanest kid you've ever seen," Morgan said.

Defense attorney Karen Stam argued against release, saying doctor/patient confidentiality should be paramount. She said release to the state, which has never occurred in Utah, would set a dangerous precedent.

A hearing date has not yet been set. Morgan says the state will either find the evidence it needs to support possible release or drop the subpoena.