Wanda Barzee, Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper, Gets 15 Years, Including 7 Already Served
SALT LAKE CITY -- Nearly eight years after Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint, the woman who pleaded guilty to the 2002 kidnapping is headed to prison.
Wanda Eileen Barzee was sentenced Friday to two terms of up to 15 years in prison in back-to-back hearings in state and federal court.
"I know the gravity of my crimes and how serious they are," Barzee, 64, said during the federal hearing. "I'm just so sorry again for all the pain and suffering I caused upon the Smart family."
The terms will be served concurrently, and Barzee will likely be held at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas, where she can be treated for mental illness.
The sentencings bring to a close a seven-year legal process for Barzee that was repeatedly delayed when she was twice deemed incompetent to stand trial and rejected voluntary medication because of her religious beliefs.
In 2006, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ordered Barzee forcibly medicated with anti-psychotic medications. Last fall, doctors at Utah State Hospital said Barzee's competency had been restored – a finding that prompted plea negotiations with state and federal prosecutors.
In November, Barzee pleaded guilty to federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines in Smart's abduction.
In the state case, kidnapping and sexual assault charges against Barzee were dropped in exchange for a plea of guilty but mentally ill to a charge of conspiracy in the attempted abduction of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, also in 2002.
As part of those deals, Barzee has agreed to testify in pending state and federal cases against her now-estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell, in the kidnapping of Smart.
Barzee will get credit for the seven years she's already spent behind bars in her federal case, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball said Friday. Kimball also ordered Barzee to five years probation upon her release – at about 72 years old – and said she will have to register as a sex offender.
In the state case, Atherton did not award Barzee credit for time served. After she completes her federal sentence, Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole will decide if she must spend additional time in state prison.
Barzee's attorney, Scott Williams, said he believes Barzee's "remorse at this point is sincere and that her sense of her criminal responsibility is real."
Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom. She was found nine months later, in March 2003, walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with Barzee and Mitchell.
Smart is now 22 and serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris.
Her father Ed Smart said Elizabeth felt the 15-year federal prison term for Barzee wasn't strong enough.
"I think the point here today is that we don't want to see anyone hurt by (Barzee) again," Ed Smart said. "But to have it come to an end ... it's been so many years."
Elizabeth's mother, Lois Smart, chastised Barzee during the federal court hearing for being a mother herself who failed to protect a child.
"Wanda, what you did to our family and to our girl Elizabeth was wrong," Lois Smart said, turning to face Barzee. "It was wrong and it was evil."
Lois Smart said Barzee's actions brought suffering on everyone in the Smart family.
"But more than that, Elizabeth suffered. She was tortured and tormented," said Lois Smart, who had not previously spoken publicly. "I hope that you'll be able to make peace with your maker."
An itinerant street preacher, Mitchell, 56, is scheduled for a federal court trial beginning Nov. 1. A state case has been stalled because Mitchell was deemed incompetent for trial. Atherton declined to order forced medication in his case.
At a federal court hearing last year, Smart said she was taken from her home to a mountain campsite where she was forced into a polygamous marriage with Mitchell and endured repeated rapes and other abuse. She was held captive for nine months.