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Chris Detrick
Terry Lee Black, who is charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering 6-year-old Sierra Newbold, appears in court Aug. 22, 2012. A preliminary hearing scheduled for next week has been postponed because defense attorneys have raised questions about his mental competency.

WEST JORDAN — A hearing on the evidence against a man accused of kidnapping, murdering and raping a 6-year-old neighbor girl has been postponed amid questions about the his mental competency.

A five-day preliminary hearing for Terry Lee Black, 42, was set to begin next week, but defense attorneys asked that it be continued to allow for a review of the man's competency. Third District Judge Mark Kouris agreed to the continuance and he set a review hearing for Aug. 29.

Black is charged with capital murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child, first-degree felonies, in connection with Sierra Newbold's death. He is accused of going into the girl's West Jordan home on June 26, abducting her and eventually drowning her in a nearby canal following a sexual assault. Black was arrested following a bank robbery three days later, also in West Jordan.

He is charged with robbery and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, second-degree felonies, in connection with that robbery. In August of 2012, he 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.

A hearing on the evidence against Black in all three cases was set to begin Monday, but all were cancelled at the defense attorneys' request.

In a petition filed July 18, Black's four attorneys said they have met with the man almost weekly for the past year "and believe he is suffering from limited mental functioning." The attorneys and a social services coordinator all agreed that Black is unable to aid in his defense and that the stress of the upcoming preliminary hearing made his ability to help or make reasoned choices "nonexistent."

They said Black lacks the ability to understand the proceedings, testify if needed, discuss facts, events and his state of mind or comprehend the possible penalties he is facing.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam