Woman in Smart Kidnapping Said Incompetent

Woman Charged in Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Ruled Incompetent to Be Tried, Ordered Back to Hospital

SALT LAKE CITY Aug. 11, 2004 — The woman accused in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping is still not competent to stand trial and must receive another year of treatment, a judge has ruled.

Wanda Barzee, 58, who first was ruled incompetent in January, remains incompetent, but there is a “substantial probability she may become competent in the foreseeable future,” Third District Judge Judith Atherton said Tuesday. She ordered another evaluation on Aug. 10, 2005.

Barzee, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are accused of kidnapping the then 14-year-old girl at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home June 5, 2002, and holding her captive for nine months. Authorities said Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, wanted the girl for his second wife.

Barzee and Mitchell are charged with kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping in Elizabeth’s disappearance.

Dr. Gerald Berge of the state hospital testified that it had been difficult to properly evaluate Barzee at the hospital because she was “not open to some of the procedures.”

Berge said Barzee still had ongoing “revelations” tied to her own religious beliefs and those she shared with Mitchell.

Berge said Barzee believes the late Ezra Taft Benson, a president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave Mitchell “the keys to the kingdom, establishing him as the head of the church.”

The couple had been excommunicated from the church, as are all members who advocate polygamy.

Barzee also believes she had a relationship with Johann Sebastian Bach in the pre-existence, and “he was present at one of her organ recitals,” Berge said.

Barzee’s dependence has apparently shown a shift from Mitchell to her defense team of David Finlayson and Scott Williams, who she claimed are “being directed by God,” Berge said.

Atherton said her decision to send Barzee back to the hospital was based heavily on the fact that Barzee’s “exact diagnosis has not been determined.”

Berge originally agreed with a second doctor that Barzee suffered from shared psychotic disorder because “her beliefs were clearly intertwined with those of her husband.”

But he said he would diagnose delusional disorder if Barzee fails to respond to continued separation from Mitchell or Mitchell is found not to be delusional. He rejected the claim made by another court-appointed doctor that her illness was paranoid schizophrenia.

Barzee has not received any medication to help restore her competency, and the court was told that she was not receptive to taking any because of religious beliefs.

A competency hearing for Mitchell is set for Aug. 31.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Associated Press, USA
Aug. 11, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 11, 2004.
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