Prosecutors Seek Hearing on Medicating Barzee

Prosecutors Seek Hearing on Medicating Barzee

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP/KSL News) -- Prosecutors are seeking a hearing on medicating Elizabeth Smart kidnapping suspect Wanda Eileen Barzee to enable her to stand trial.

The only way she can become competent to stand trial is if she is forced to take anti-psychotic medications that she refuses to take voluntarily, according to documents filed this month in 3rd District Court.

"We will oppose it," said Barzee's attorney, Scott C. Williams.

He said forced medication would violate Barzee's rights and there is little likelihood that it would change her mental condition.

Barzee has been at the Utah State Hospital for nearly a year. At an August review hearing, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton found there was "a substantial probability that the defendant may become competent in the foreseeable future."

However, doctors said there has been "little or no progress" since August, and since December, her mental health has deteriorated.

According to court documents, Barzee suffers from a psychotic disorder that includes symptoms of persecutory and grandiose delusions and paranoia.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Susan Eisenman, who filed the request for a medication hearing on behalf of the hospital, said Barzee cannot be medicated unless the judge finds that there is a substantial likelihood it would make Barzee competent and there is no less intrusive treatment that would work.

"We are at an impasse without the court's intervention," Eisenman told The Salt Lake Tribune.

A law professor from BYU says to force Barzee to take medication, the prosecution will have to prove medicating her will work.

Marguerite Driessen, BYU Law Professor: "She has not had any progress since August in the treatment, so they want to try something else, they will need to make a case that what they want to try will likely have the results they are after."

Barzee, 59, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, 51, are accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart, then 14, from her home on June 5, 2002. Mitchell and Barzee purportedly believed they were fulfilling a prophesy that Mitchell would take seven plural wives.

Nine months later, the defendants were spotted with Elizabeth in Sandy, a Salt Lake suburb, and were arrested.

Mitchell and his attorneys agreed he was competent last August, but his attorneys say his mental health then went downhill. A competency hearing for him began last month and continues on March 11.

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

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