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Woman in Triad case still cannot be tried

Judge orders Duy civilly committed to the state hospital

After more than five years of treatment, alleged Triad Center killer De Kieu Duy is still mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Third District Judge Judith Atherton ruled Wednesday Duy has no "rational or factional understanding of the legal system" and ordered her to be civilly committed to the Utah State Hospital, where Duy has undergone treatment since the 1999 shooting.

Duy is charged with several felonies, including capital murder, after she allegedly stormed into the Triad Center in January 1999 with a handgun and killed AT&T employee Anne Sleater and wounded another man.

Since the shooting, Duy has been repeatedly found to be incompetent to stand trial. Tuesday, the statutory 5 1/2-year time limit during which the courts can attempt to restore a criminal defendant's mental competency expired, forcing the judge to civilly commit Duy to the state hospital.

The criminal charges will remain on the books, and Duy will be required to face them should her mental competency ever be restored, prosecutor Robert Stott said.

"Six years ago I was quite optimistic that she would be returned to competency, but apparently my optimism was a little misled," Stott said. "We would like to resolve the legal matters and get a final punishment."

Duy's defense attorneys said the woman, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, is still ruled by the voices that allegedly compelled her to purchase a 9mm handgun from a West Valley gun shop on Jan. 14, 1999, and take a bus to the Triad Center with the intent of getting into the KSL studio. Duy reportedly told police she believed someone at KSL-TV was harassing her.

Police say Duy then fired numerous rounds in the lobby of the television station, wounding KSL building manager Brent Wightman. Unable to gain entry into the KSL newsroom, Duy allegedly took an elevator to the fourth floor of the building, where 30-year-old Sleater was shot before a co-worker wrestled Duy to the ground. Sleater died eight days later at LDS Hospital.

After Monday's hearing, Stott said Duy's mental diagnosis has not changed since the shooting, but he said he hopes that through treatment, Duy can eventually face the charges filed against her.

Wightman said he was overwhelmed at the sight of the woman who shot him that January day. He said Duy looked like she has made some progress with her mental health problems and added that both he and the Sleater family are satisfied with Tuesday's ruling.

"As long as she's off the streets and getting the help she needs, I'm fine," Wightman said. "I'm trying to be forgiving . . . but it's hard when you think of the life that was taken."


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com