A circuit judge ruled Tuesday that Clarence St. Pier Leake is competent to stand trial on charges that he took hostages at gunpoint in the Washington Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 1986.
Leake, 30, clearly understood the charges and the nature of the proceedings, Judge Peter J. Messitte said. He is able to adequately assist in his own defense.The judge was undaunted by Leake's attempt to subpoena 14 ancient Mormon prophets in his defense. Leake claims the prophets have been resurrected.
"Many religions which teach that burning bushes speak and a body may rise up after a crucifixion contain an element of fantasy, but they form a central part of respectable religions," the judge said.
Reading aloud three passages from The Book of Mormon, the judge concluded that the LDS Church teaches that people may be resurrected after they are dead. "I am not prepared to say (Leake) is incompetent if he believes what an honorable church teaches."
Messitte made his ruling after listening to opposing testimony from a defense psychiatrist and psychologist. He also listened to a tape recording of interviews of Leake by six psychologists and psychiatrists before making the ruling.
Leake admitted that he took three hostages at the temple and held them at gunpoint for nearly 12 hours. The incident occurred on Oct. 22 and 23, 1986. Leake told the judge he is competent to stand trial on the charges, which include kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment and the use of a handgun in a crime of violence. He faces up to 30 years on the kidnapping charge and potentially an additional 60 years in jail on the other counts.
Leake said the Lord and Mormon prophets told him to enter the temple. Assistant Maryland States' Attorney John J. McCarthy, however, suggested that Leake entered the temple in anger at being denied temple-attendance privileges. McCarthy said that Leake, earlier in 1986, was convicted of stealing tools from a former employer in anger over being fired.
Leake's defense attorneys based their claim that Leake was not competent on Leake's request that his counsel subpoena 14 ancient Mormon prophets including Mormon, Alma and the Angel Moroni.