Woman pleads guilty in Elizabeth Smart case
POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 11:33am
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:06am
SALT LAKE CITY - One of two people charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges.
In a deal with prosecutors, Wanda Eileen Barzee entered the pleas to charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
The 64-year-old Barzee could face a life sentence for the kidnapping charge and up to 15 years for the other count. It's unclear whether Barzee may get a reduced sentence in exchange for her plea.
Smart was 14 in 2002 when she was abducted from her bedroom at knifepoint and whisked away to a campsite in the mountains above her Salt Lake City home. She was recovered nine months later after a motorist saw her walking on a suburban street with Barzee and Barzee's now-estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell.
Barzee's role in the alleged abduction has garnered less attention than Mitchell's.
Testimony of polygamy, rape
At a hearing last month, Smart said that within hours of the abduction, Mitchell took her as a polygamous wife and then raped her. Smart said Barzee washed the teen's feet and dressed her in robes before the ceremony.
Smart described Mitchell as "evil, wicked, manipulative, stinky, slimy, selfish, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God."
She said he held her captive with a cable attached to her leg that had a 10-foot reach. That line was attached to another cable strung between two trees.
Smart said Mitchell plied her with alcohol and drugs to lower her resistance.
"He said that he would kill anybody that would come into the camp, or kill me if I ever tried to escape or yell out," Smart had testified.
Smart said Mitchell was motivated by sex and used religion to get what he wanted.
Barzee often became upset over Mitchell's relationship with Smart, but that sentiment would never last, Smart said.
Issues of competency
State cases filed in March 2003 against Barzee and Mitchell have been stymied by rulings that both were incompetent for trial. Barzee and Mitchell were indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2008.
Barzee's plea comes a month after a Utah State Hospital report to a state judge said that 15 months of court-ordered treatments with anti-psychotic medications had restored her competency.