Unabomber suspect might have tried to hang himself; will be tested

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Theodore Kaczynski apparently tried to hang himself with his undershorts in his cell, then agreed in court Thursday to undergo psychological tests to prove he is competent to represent himself in the Unabomber trial.
Undersheriff Lou Blanas said marshals noticed Kaczynski was not wearing underpants when he changed in the courthouse Thursday morning from his prison jumpsuit to the street clothes he has been wearing in court.
Kaczynski’s cell was searched and no underwear turned up, Blanas said. “We assume they were flushed down the toilet,” he said. Courtroom observers said red marks were visible on Kaczynski’s neck.
Blanas said Kaczynski had recently seemed depressed — apparently over his lawyers’ plans to portray him as mentally ill — but Blanas said he had been a model prisoner during the past 18 months of confinement.
Blanas said the suicide attempt “could have taken place in a matter of a few minutes.” Now Kaczynski will be placed on a 24-hour suicide watch and will have to wear a heart monitor, he said.
Defense lawyers refused immediate comment. It was not known whether the attorneys or U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. knew about the incident before the chaotic hearing Thursday in which Kaczynski asked to represent himself and agreed to undergo psychological tests.
Kaczynski’s change of mind — he had vehemently resisted government efforts to have him examined by psychiatrists — threw the trial into disarray for the second time this week.
Opening arguments had been scheduled for Monday but were postponed until Thursday after Kaczynski asked the judge for permission to fire his lawyers.
Burrell said he was convinced that “the defendant would not be asking to represent himself if he was in control of the mental status defense.”
Prosecutor Robert Cleary said, “From where the government stands, he is entirely competent to represent himself and stand trial.”