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Prosecutors Argue for Forced Medication

Prosecutors Argue for Forced Medication



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Prosecutors wanting to forcibly medicate Wanda Barzee so she can become competent to be tried in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping have argued that such medication has been ordered in other cases and has been effective.

In a brief filed Tuesday with 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton, Assistant Utah Attorney General Susan Eisenman cited testimony from recent federal appeals court hearings, where the forced medication of defendants was upheld.

In a 2004 case, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard testimony that there was a 70 percent chance of a defendant being restored to mental competency by anti-psychotic drugs.

Barzee's attorney, Scott C. Williams, has contended there is scant clinical evidence that defendants diagnosed with delusional disorders can benefit from forced medication.

Atherton is expected to hear expert testimony on the issue before deciding whether to order the medication.

Doctors at the Utah State Hospital, where Barzee has been kept since March 24, 2004, have said drugs are their last remaining option for treating the 59-year-old woman.

Barzee denies she is mentally ill and has refused to take drugs or submit to routine medical procedures.

Barzee has said God has ordered her to take a vow of silence and sends her messages through movies, and that the doctors are evil and working against God.

Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, 51, are accused of kidnapping then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002. The two homeless street preachers were found with the girl nine months later on a street in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy.

Two court-appointed evaluators had previously agreed Barzee was incompetent.

Mitchell's evaluators disagree about his mental competence.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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