Kidnapper in Elizabeth Smart Case Receives 15-Year Sentences


The woman who was convicted in the infamous kidnapping of teenager Elizabeth Smart has been sentenced to two prison terms of 15 years each—one as the result of federal charges, and one on state charges.

Wanda Barzee, 64, will most likely serve her sentences concurrently, at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Smart’s case captivated the nation in 2002, when the 14-year-old was kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint. She was found alive and well nine months later, in March 2003, near Salt Lake City with Barzee and Barzee’s now-estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell.

Barzee had been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial not just once, but twice. She refused to take medication on religious grounds, but in 2006, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ordered that she undergo treatment with anti-psychotic medications. Doctors at Utah State Hospital declared Barzee competent last fall, and Barzee entered plea negotiations with both state and federal prosecutors.

Barzee pleaded guilty in November 2009 to a number of federal charges, including kidnapping and transportation of a minor across state lines.

Barzee was able to strike a plea deal in the state case, and charges of kidnapping and sexual assault against her were dropped when she pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a charge of conspiracy in the attempted abduction of Olivia Wright, Smart’s cousin. Barzee and Mitchell had attempted to abduct Wright from her home just a month after taking Smart. According to a statement Barzee made in 2003, the pair had planned to take both girls to a camp in the mountains.

Another condition of the plea deals will require Barzee to testify against Mitchell in his pending state and federal trials. Mitchell, 56, is accused not only of kidnapping Smart, but also of repeatedly raping her. He is due to stand federal court trial in November 2010, but the state case against him has been delayed, again because of competency issues. Atherton has declined to order forced medication for Mitchell.

Barzee did receive credit, in the federal case, for the seven years she has already served while waiting for her trial. She will be 72 years old at the time of her release, and will serve five additional years of probation, in addition to having to register as a sex offender. She may also have to serve additional time on the state sentence.

Elizabeth Smart, 22, is now serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris. Her father, Ed Smart, said that Elizabeth does not feel the 15-year sentence is sufficient.


Bookmark This Article:
| Delicious | Digg: Digg | Technorati: Technorati | Newsvine: Seed this article | Reddit: Add to Reddit | Furl: Add to furl | |
| Stumble Upon: Stumble This Article | Yahoo!: YahooMyWeb | Google: Google |