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Barzee Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial

Barzee Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A judge has ruled Wanda Barzee still is incompetent to be tried in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart and has ordered her back to the Utah State Hospital for another year of treatment.

Barzee, 58, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are accused of kidnapping the then 14-year-old girl at knife point from her Salt Lake City home June 5, 2002, and holding her captive for nine months before the three were found walking along a street in suburban Sandy. 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.

Third District Judge Judith Atherton said Tuesday that Barzee, who first was ruled incompetent in January, remains incompetent, but there is a "substantial probability she may become competent in the foreseeable future."

Atherton ordered another evaluation on Aug. 10, 2005.

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" and "she said she was asked not to speak about incident events (related to the kidnapping).

"She has made it clear since the first day she objected to many treatment procedures," he said.

Berge said Barzee still had ongoing "revelations" tied to her own religious beliefs and those she shared with David 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.

Prosecutor Kent Morgan said such beliefs are similar to those of sects that have broken away from the Mormon church over its abandonment of polygamy. He said doctors need to discern between delusional beliefs and cultural beliefs.

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.

Berge said when Barzee attended group therapy sessions at the hospital she did well and was a "pleasant participant," but he said her attendance was "rather selective."

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.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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