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Elizabeth Smart's parents ask parole board to make Wanda Barzee serve time in Utah, too

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Feb 17th, 2011 @ 5:12pm


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UTAH STATE PRISON — A member of the Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole said Thursday he will recommend that Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Wanda Barzee be brought to the Utah State Prison after she serves her time in federal prison.

Barzee pleaded guilty in November 2009 to federal charges of kidnapping and illegally transporting then-minor Elizabeth Smart across state lines for sexual activity. As part of a larger plea deal, she then pleaded guilty in state court to the 2002 attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, who was 14 at the time.

Under state law, Barzee is allowed to have a review hearing before the parole board after one year. On Thursday, Barzee — who is currently serving time at a federal prison in Texas — signed a waiver excusing her from attending her initial parole hearing.

Elizabeth Smart's parents, Ed and Lois, were at the hearing and asked board member Robert Yeates to force Barzee to serve her full 15-year state sentence after she is released from federal prison.


I never want her to have the chance of hurting another child again.

–Ed Smart


"I never want her to have the chance of hurting another child again," Ed Smart said.

When Elizabeth was returned home, Lois Smart said her daughter "was not the girl she was when she left."

Smart used words like "strong" and "mature" to describe her daughter. She said she was raised in a strong LDS family and taught to respect people and be kind to her elders.

"That was all shattered when she came back," Lois Smart said.

Elizabeth told her mother that Barzee, a mother herself, was in on all the abuses that Elizabeth suffered during her nine months of captivity.

"She was not a mother that was kind and loving and thoughtful," Lois Smart said of Barzee. "Wanda Barzee was equally as guilty as Brian Mitchell."

Ed Smart echoed Lois' comments, telling the parole member that Barzee constantly yelled and ordered Elizabeth to endure abuses as much as Barzee's husband, Brian David Mitchell, did.

Even after Barzee plead guilty, Ed Smart said the letter Barzee eventually sent to Elizabeth was a "sorry apology" that was only two or three lines long. In court, he said Barzee showed "no sign of remorse" as she was "all smiles" when being sentenced.

Part of the reason the family agreed to the plea bargain, Smart said, was because they believed that Barzee would have to serve additional time at the Utah State Prison after she was released from federal prison.

Ed and Lois Smart listen during a parole hearing for Wanda Barzee at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, on Thursday, February 17, 2011. Barzee pleaded guilty in state court to aggravated kidnapping for her part in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping. (Djamila Grossman, The Salt Lake Tribune)

Also in attendance at the hearing Thursday was Andrea Jenkins, one of Barzee's daughters. She did not speak during the hearing but — according to the Smarts — submitted a long letter to the parole board also asking that her mother serve her full time in state prison.

Yeates told the Smarts that he had also talked to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, which recommended that Barzee's sentence run concurrent with the federal sentence.

Upon hearing that, Ed Smart, who was back sitting in the audience at the time, shook his head and said, "Absolutely not."

"I can't even believe they would make that comment," he said.

Outside the parole board room, Smart said he was disappointed to hear the DA's office recommend a concurrent sentence and wanted to talk to them to find out if that information is accurate.

Yeates told the Smarts he would likely recommend to the full, five-member parole board that Barzee be transferred to the Utah State Prison after she serves her time in federal custody and that she have another parole hearing within a year or two of arriving back in Utah.

Yeates said a Utah detainer is already on file and waiting for Barzee when she is released, meaning she will be transferred directly to the Utah State Prison once her federal prison sentence is served.

Barzee is scheduled to be released in 2018 from federal prison, but could be released as early as 2016 for good behavior. 

Elizabeth was not at Thursday's hearing. She is in France serving the remainder of her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is scheduled to return in time to speak at Mitchell's sentencing in federal court on May 25. Mitchell could be sentenced to up to two life sentences in federal prison.

Barzee pleaded guilty in November 2009 to federal charges of kidnapping and illegally transporting then-minor Elizabeth Smart across state lines for sexual activity. As part of a larger plea deal, she then pleaded guilty in state court to the 2002 attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, who was 14 at the time.


Wanda Barzee was equally as guilty as Brian Mitchell.

–Lois Smart


Under state law, Barzee is allowed to have a review hearing before the parole board after one year. On Thursday, Barzee — who is currently serving time at a federal prison in Texas — signed a waiver excusing her from attending her initial parole hearing.

Elizabeth Smart's parents, Ed and Lois, were at the hearing and asked board member Robert Yeates to force Barzee to serve her full 15-year state sentence after she is released from federal prison.

"I never want her to have the chance of hurting another child again," Ed Smart said.

Lois Smart also told Yeates that her daughter had changed when she returned and said, "Wanda Barzee was equally as guilty as Brian Mitchell."

Also in attendance at the hearing Thursday was Andrea Jenkins, one of Barzee's daughters. She did not speak during the hearing but — according to the Smarts — submitted a long letter to the parole board also asking that her mother serve her full time in state prison.

Yeates told the Smarts he would recommend to the full, five-member parole board that Barzee be transferred to the Utah State Prison after she serves her time in federal custody and that she have another parole hearing within a year or two of arriving back in Utah.

Yeates said a Utah detainer is already on file and waiting for Barzee when she is released.

Barzee is scheduled to be released in 2018 from federal prison, but could be released as early as 2016 for good behavior. 

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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