Barzee sentenced to 15 years in prison for Smart abduction

10 photos
Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- The woman who pleaded guilty to her role in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart was sentenced to prison for the second time in one day.

Barzee sentenced in state and federal court

Wanda Barzee was sentenced by a federal court judge to 15 years in prison Friday morning. That afternoon, Barzee was sentenced in state court to an additional one to 15 years in prison in the attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin about six weeks after Smart's abduction.

Third District Judge Judith Atherton ordered that Barzee's sentence be served concurrently with her federal sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas. The prison is the only medical and psychiatric center for women in the federal prison system.

The federal judge granted Barzee some leniency by setting the start date of her sentence to March 12, 2003, the day of her arrest. That means she gets credit for already serving nearly half her sentence.

The state judge, however, did not give Barzee credit for time served. Though the sentences will run concurrently, it's possible Barzee could serve 8 more years in state prison once she is released from federal prison.

Defense attorney Scott Williams does not believe Barzee is getting off easy.

"I don't think that a federal court and a state court and the United States attorney's office and the Salt Lake County District Attorney would enter into resolution that they felt would let a very notorious individual off easy," he said.

Lois Smart speaks directly to daughter's kidnapper

Before the federal sentence was handed down, Barzee addressed the court and apologized for what she did.

"I know the gravity of my crimes and how serious they are," Barzee said. "I'm just so sorry again for all the pain and suffering I caused upon the Smart family."

Elizabeth's mother, Lois Smart, made a last-minute decision to speak. She spoke directly to Barzee, as one mother to another, and described the ordeal her family has gone through.

"Mothers shouldn't treat mothers that way, and they especially shouldn't treat children that way, the ones they should be caring for and nurturing and loving," Lois Smart said. "It was unconscionable what she did."

She continued, saying, "Wanda, what you did to our daughter was wrong and evil ... you hurt our family in ways that you will never know."

Then Lois Smart said, "I hope you will be able to make peace with your maker."

Lois Smart told KSL her whole family suffered from the consequences of Barzee's choices.

"My oldest son wondered why he couldn't protect his sister. The next son wondered, ‘Where's my sister when I need her, when I'm going into middle school," she said. "The daughter, my daughter Mary Katherine, of course was the only one with her when she was kidnapped and that was a big responsibility put upon her."

"I believe she's genuinely sorry for her criminal activity," said defense attorney Scott Williams. "Frankly, that is borne out in medical documentation. She's had to be treated in relation to her realization of what she did wrong and how wrong it was."

Smart family reacts to sentencing

Friday's sentence did not come as a surprise. It was part of a plea deal struck back in November.

Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, says Elizabeth didn't think this sentence was harsh enough, but says the family is glad this part of the case is over.

"I think the point here today is that we don't want to see anyone hurt by (Barzee) again," Ed Smart said. "But to have it come to an end ... it's been so many years."

The sentencings bring to a close a seven-year legal process for Barzee that was repeatedly delayed when she was twice deemed incompetent to stand trial and rejected voluntary medication because of her religious beliefs.

In 2006, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ordered Barzee forcibly medicated with anti-psychotic medications. Last fall, doctors at Utah State Hospital said Barzee's competency had been restored -- a finding that prompted plea negotiations with state and federal prosecutors.

In February, Barzee also pleaded guilty but mentally ill in state court to a second-degree felony conspiracy charge for the attempted kidnapping of the cousin.

As part of her plea agreements, Barzee has agreed to testify in pending state and federal cases against her now-estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell.


Story compiled with contributions from Sandra Yi, Marc Giauque and The Associated Press.


Related stories

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast