SUSPECT IN SMART ABDUCTION RULED UNFIT
In June 2002, Elizabeth Smart, then 14, was taken at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City. She returned to her family March 12, 2003, after she was spotted in a Salt Lake City suburb with Brian Mitchell, 51, and Wanda Barzee, 58, the transients who have been charged with her kidnapping. They are each being held on $10 million bond and underwent mental health evaluations. Elizabeth was kept prisoner in the hills above her family's home, and she and the two suspects were spotted in the San Diego area. Many details have been kept secret and the family has toned down its public profile.
Elizabeth, now 15, is spending a lot of time with her family and friends these days. She's going to church and making trips to the mall, though she's not back at school.
Her family has hired a lawyer to handle book and movie offers that have poured in since she was found.
Barzee was ruled incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a mental hospital. She will be periodically evaluated and could someday be brought to trial if found competent. Another review was set for April 15. One doctor concluded she was paranoid schizophrenic; the other said she has a shared psychotic disorder, presumably with her husband, Brian.
Mitchell pleaded not guilty on September 2, to kidnapping and other charges in the knifepoint abduction. He answered not guilty six times for each of the charges read to him by the judge. His trial was set for the first week in February. A grand jury indictment against him was unsealed a day after he was ruled competent to stand trial. They both face counts of kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and conspiracy. The indictment also applies to Barzee. She is scheduled to be re-evaluated next August.
A defense expert testified on July 7 that Mitchell has a history of psychosis that runs in his family, refuses to speak with his lawyers or put up a defense and is incompetent to stand trial. He is consumed by messianic delusions and wants to be crucified at trial so he can move to his next phase of life, when he believes God will rescue him from jail. Mitchell has been removed from the courtroom seven times for disruptive behavior.
On July 26, Mitchell was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. He will be sent to a state hospital until he is capable of standing trial.
(Salt Lake City, Ohio)