DENVER - A woman who helped her husband keep kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart captured and enslaved for nine months was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in federal prison after admitting her role in the abduction.
Wanda Eileen Barzee, now 64, also agreed to testify against her husband, Brian David Mitchell, whose attorneys claim is not mentally competent to stand trial for charges relating to the 2002 kidnapping of Smart, then 14.
“I’m so sorry, Elizabeth, for all the pain and suffering I caused you and your family,’’ Barzee said in federal court in Salt Lake City, where she pleaded guilty to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor. “It is my hope you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me.’’
Smart was not in the courtroom yesterday. She testified last month that Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet who wanted her as a plural bride, snatched her from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in March of 2002 and brought her to a remote camp where he held her with Barzee’s help.
Smart testified that Barzee was jealous of Mitchell’s relationship with her, which included repeated rapes, but that Barzee complied with his directives to keep Smart chained up. After several years in a mental hospital, Barzee was found competent by a state judge of standing trial on kidnapping charges.
“Today’s agreement means that Elizabeth Smart will not have to testify at trial against Ms. Barzee,’’ US Attorney Brett Tolman said in a statement. “It is our belief that this outcome will begin to bring long-awaited closure to Elizabeth and her family.’’