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Man accused of raping, killing 6-year-old girl remains incompetent for trial

WEST JORDAN — The man accused of raping and killing 6-year-old Sierra Newbold remains incompetent to stand trial more than three years later, court-appointed psychologists have found.

"It appears the situation has gotten worse," 3rd District Judge Douglas Hogan said about Terry Lee Black's mental status and ability to participate in his own defense.

According to court filings, Black was diagnosed in the mental evaluation with borderline intellectual functioning, as well as learning disorder, cognitive disorder and psychotic disorder. No specific details about those disorders were provided.

Black, 44, is accused of going into Sierra's West Jordan home on June 26, 2012, abducting the girl and eventually drowning her in a nearby canal following a sexual assault. He is charged with capital murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child, all first-degree felonies.

Black was arrested following a bank robbery in West Jordan three days later. In that case, he is charged with robbery and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, second-degree felonies.

In August 2012, Black was also charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony, in connection with a separate abuse case involving a neighborhood girl between 2007 and 2009.

With the results of the competency evaluation, all three cases against Black are effectively "on hold," Hogan said.

Black will be treated at the Utah State Hospital in hopes of restoring his competency before the courts will again evaluate whether the case can proceed. The process could take a year, to the dismay of Sierra's family, who has already endured "this horrible event," prosecutor Robert Stott said.

"As far as they see it, no progress has been made," Stott said, offering his sympathy for the family.

The family is extremely frustrated, he said.

"They want to get it over with," Stott said. "Why is the law taking such a long time?"

Black's case was also tied up in the Utah Supreme Court when his attorneys claimed 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris was biased and asked he be removed from the case. In July, the Utah Supreme Court ruled the issue was moot because the case had already been transferred.

State psychologists have found Black has a cognitive deficit and is "becoming more and more psychotic," Stott said. The court filing calls Black "severely impaired," experiencing "alcoholic blackout, dissociation, cognitive impairment and psychosis."

Stott noted that under Utah law, regardless of the charges in a case, prosecutors cannot proceed toward trial if a defendant is found incompetent to work with his or her attorneys in preparing a defense. Competency to stand trial, he noted, looks fairly different from simply being competent to go through day-to-day life.

Members of Sierra's family were somber as they left the courtroom and did not speak to reporters. Stott said the family is convinced it was Black, a man who lived in their West Jordan neighborhood, who kidnapped and killed the young girl.

"They look at a guy who, by all odds of what they've seen in the reports and from his past, knows what he's doing. He can handle things; he can function. And now the court and doctors say that he can't go to trial," Stott said. "Obviously, they're extremely distraught."

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

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