Testing Kaczynski

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SACRAMENTO: The Unabomber trial will wait a week or more while Ted Kaczynski faces what he fears most: the pokings and proddings of a team of psychiatrists. Everyone associated with the trial expects him to pass muster--even after the presumed suicide attempt. "The hurdle is so low," says TIME San Francisco Bureau Chief David Jackson, in Sacramento covering the trial. "Burrell already considers him competent; Kaczynski only needs to understand both the nature and consequences of the crime. But the competency issue has to be settled."

Judge Garland Burrell will begin selecting the group of experts today. Kaczynski, meanwhile, is living a Unabomber's nightmare with 24-hour camera surveillance and a heart monitor. If Kaczynski is deemed competent to stand trial, however, he will likely be allowed to serve as his own counsel. David Kaczynski relayed through his attorney his belief that leaving his brother in charge of his own defense amounts to "government-assisted suicide." The accused, however disturbed, must already know he will be overmatched legally; he seems intent only on choosing the terms of his death.