|Wanda Eileen Barzee was sentenced to two terms of up to 15 years in prison yesterday in state and federal court. (Al Hartmann/Salt Lake Tribune via Associated Press)|
Woman sentenced to prison in Elizabeth Smart’s 2002 abduction case
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 kidnapping is headed to prison.
Wanda Eileen Barzee was sentenced yesterday 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 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 probably be held at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, 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 medication because of her religious beliefs.
In 2006, Third 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 2002 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 has already spent behind bars in her federal case and will have to register as a sex offender.