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Defense Blamed for Delay in Barzee's Commitment

Defense Blamed for Delay in Barzee's Commitment



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Prosecutors claim delays from Wanda Barzee's defense team has set back the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping suspect's commitment to a state mental hospital nearly a month.

Barzee, 58, was ruled incompetent to stand trial on Jan. 9. But because all the beds at the hospital were full, she was ordered to remain at the county jail until space became available.

Prosecutors said they were ready with a written order to put Barzee on the waiting list a day after she was judged incompetent, but it needed approval from Barzee's defense attorneys before the judge could sign it.

They didn't do that until Wednesday. Once a judge signs the approved order, Barzee will put on a waiting list. It could take up to six weeks before a bed becomes available.

Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom blamed the delay in getting Barzee on the waiting list "to the failure of the defense to get (the order) signed."

Defense attorney David Finlayson called Yocom's claim "a lot of posturing."

Yocom claims Barzee's defense responded Jan. 29 with a few changes it wanted made to the order before it was signed. "There was superfluous language, and some language in it we felt the judge didn't order," Finlayson said.

This type of delay is typical, Finlayson said, adding it was caused by some wording prosecutors put in the order that he didn't feel track with what the judge ordered, causing them to have the transcripts pulled from the court hearing.

"It's nothing substantial we're fighting about, just nailing down exactly what the judge said," Finlayson said Thursday.

The final draft was submitted Tuesday, and defense lawyers signed off on it a day later.

A total of 14 people were on the waiting list for a bed at the state hospital on Wednesday. Barzee was placed above those waiting to be transferred from the Utah State Prison, where they can already receive treatment. That put her at number 11.

Yocum said only one of the 10 people in front of her was a woman, making her second on the waiting list for a female-designated bed.

A competency hearing for co-defendant Brian David Mitchell, 50, was delayed until May because Mitchell's lead attorney recently stepped down from the case to take another job.

Both Mitchell and Barzee are charged with kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping in Smart's disappearance.

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

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