Child killer Arthur Gary Bishop is mentally competent to seek the death penalty for his crimes, according to testimony Friday in a competency hearing.
Three court-appointed psychiatrists told 3rd District Judge James Sawaya that they found no significant mental disorders in Bishop, who was sentenced to death in March 1984 for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering five boys between 1979 and 1983.The official decision on whether Bishop, 38, is legally competent rests with Sawaya, who continued the hearing until April 15. Defense attorneys convinced the judge that the psychiatrists need to be given some additional medical information, which may alter their opinions.
If Bishop is found competent, the Utah Supreme Court will then rule on whether Bishop can proceed with his motion to fire his attorneys, who are seeking to save his life by appealing his conviction and death sentence.
In his motion to the high court, Bishop wrote, "True justice rightfully demands my life for the horrible crimes I committed."
Should the Supreme Court rule in Bishop's favor, the case will be sent back to 3rd District Court for the setting of a new execution date, which must fall within 30 to 60 days from the day the new execution-date hearing occurs.
In Friday's competency proceedings, psychiatrist Louis Moench said Bishop isn't really excited about dying. "But he (feels) a need to die." Moench said that Bishop would like to be found incompetent so that he could have the burden of responsibility lifted from his shoulders.
"He sort of has a wish to go on living, but it is an ambivalent wish," Moench said.
But Bishop's choice to die is "knowing, intelligent and rational," said Moench, who talked with Bishop for nearly three hours on March 16.
During that interview, Bishop was cooperative, pleasant and concerned about getting all the facts out, Moench said. Bishop was embarrassed, however, to discuss his sex life and was more open about the murders.
Bishop told Moench that many reasons exist for him wanting the death sentence carried out.
First, the killer feels that his death would have a cathartic effect on society and the families of the victims.
Bishop was emotionally touched by the news accounts of how the execution of Hi Fi Shop killer Dale Pierre Selby relieved the surviving victims and families of the deceased victims.
"That was very important to him," Moench said.
Some of the families of Bishop's victims have not forgiven him and his death was the only way to keep them from committing the "sin of unforgiveness," Bishop told Moench.
Bishop also does not like prison, which he feels is a "worthless existence," Moench said.
Bishop is aware of how embittered other prisoners have become. "And he did not want to become just as bitter as they are."
Further, the killer's death for his crimes would be favorable in God's eye, according to Bishop's religious philosophy.
The pychiatrist said Bishop suffered no significant personality disorders other than homosexual-oriented pedophilia, which would not impede his ability to think rationally.
Moench and the other two psychiatrists, Mark Rindflesh and Breck Lebegue, testified that Bishop's intelligence is average or above average and that he has no physical brain defects.
Dressed in a bright orange prison jump suit, the moustachioed Bishop participated in the hearing, taking notes and conferring often with his two defense attorneys, Joan Watt and Betsy Bowman.
At one point, Bishop stood up and complained to the judge, saying he is concerned about the relevance of some of the questioning by his attorneys.
"I don't feel a person should have to waive his rights to personal privacy," Bishop said.
Under cross-examination by Watt, the psychiatrists testified that Bishop does not seek death by the state as a substitute for suicide and that he is not doing it to please people, particularly his mother, who has visited Bishop in prison.
The mother, whom Bishop had always tried to please, told him that "she loved him very much and that she thought he should be executed," Moench said.