After years of legal wrangling over her mental state, Wanda Eileen Barzee was ordered Friday to spend 15 years behind bars for helping her husband kidnap Elizabeth Smart and hold her captive for nine months.
She was sentenced first in federal court, and then a short time later in state court.
Under a federal plea bargain, the 64-year-old Barzee will receive credit for the seven years she already has spent either at the Utah State Hospital or in jail.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
She pleaded guilty in federal court to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in November, soon after doctors said they believe she is mentally competent.
“I would just like to say again how sorry I am. I know the gravity of my crimes and how severe they are,” Barzee said in federal court. “I’m just so sorry again for all the pain and suffering I caused on the Smart family.”
Barzee will be on five years of supervised release after her release from prison and have to register as a sex offender. She was given credit for time served since March 12, 2003, leaving eight years on her sentence with a possible year off for good behavior.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball strongly recommended that Barzee be placed in Federal Medical Center Carswell, a prison facility in Fort Worth, Texas, that provides specialized medical and mental health services to female offenders.
Elizabeth Smart is serving a mission in Paris for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was not present for the sentencings.
Barzee was next sentenced by Judge Judith Atherton in the state’s 3rd District Court, where she pleaded guilty and mentally ill on Feb. 3 to second-degree felony charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping. That plea stemmed from a plot to kidnap Smart’s cousin in July 2002.
She was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison, concurrent to her federal term, and again apologized for her crimes.
Outside court, Ed Smart said Elizabeth, who had been informed about the plea deals, previously had said Barzee should receive more prison time. However, he said the family was happy to learn that Barzee could potentially serve more prison time under her state sentence once the federal term is complete.
Barzee, who has agreed to testify against Brian David Mitchell as part of her plea deals, will serve her federal sentence first. Barzee can earn up to 52 days a year off her federal sentence for good behavior, meaning she could complete the term in seven years.
She will not get credit on her state sentence for the time already spent in custody, and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has the authority to make her serve the remaining seven or eight years of the term after she gets out of federal prison.
However, defense attorney Scott C. Williams said Barzee likely will not be sent to state prison and instead will be let out of custody on her federal supervised release.
Williams said Barzee is remorseful for her actions and wants to be “spiritually realigned with her LDS faith.” Both state and federal prosecutors said 15 years is an appropriate term.
Barzee — who claimed she is the “mother of Zion” and received messages from God through her television, according to testimony at earlier court hearings — initially had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial by Atherton. But after she underwent a forced regimen of psychotropic drugs, doctors at the State Hospital asserted she was competent and Atherton agreed in a March ruling.
Mitchell, 56, is charged in federal court with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor and in state court with kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault. His trial in U.S. District Court starts Nov. 1; the state proceedings against him are on hold.
Book skip-the-line tickets to the worlds major religious sites — or to any other place in the world.
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.