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Judge orders competency hearing in killing

A judge said Tuesday he will order examinations and a hearing to determine a man's competency to stand trial for the killing of an abortionist.

Michael F. Griffin could face the death penalty if convicted of shooting Dr. David Gunn during an anti-abortion demonstration March 10 outside a Pensacola women's clinic.

Gunn, 47, of Eufaula, Ala., was shot in the back three times at close range as he arrived to perform abortions. Police say Griffin has admitted the slaying.

"The court feels that based upon the actions of the defendant, the matters that have transpired, the letters that have been sent .

.

. that I have reasonable grounds to question the competency of this defendant," said Circuit Judge John Parnham.

Griffin, 31, repeatedly has changed his mind about wanting to represent himself, once saying he planned to use the Bible as a legal document and another time asking that he be defended by a prosecutor and prosecuted by a public defender.

The former Pensacola chemical plant worker has accused President Clinton, Gov. Lawton Chiles and Supreme Court justices, among others, of treason for supporting abortion. Griffin once asked for a delay in his trial because "material witnesses" had not yet been born.

Parnham said he will issue an order Wednesday appointing three mental health experts to examine Griffin and hold the hearing within 20 days.

The action was requested by neither the prosecution nor the defense. Griffin repeatedly has said he does not want to offer an insanity defense.

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