Menu

Smart Suspect Waives Competency Hearing

A judge will decide Friday whether Elizabeth Smart (search) kidnapping suspect Wanda Barzee (search) is competent to stand trial after Barzee waived a hearing to weigh evidence on the issue.

Two mental health experts have found Barzee, 58, to be incompetent, but she insists she is sane in a motion her attorneys filed under seal Wednesday. The motion was unsealed Thursday by Third District Judge Judith Atherton (search) after attorneys for the news media and the state argued it should be public record.

"I do not believe myself to be mentally ill or infirm or incompetent in the eyes of the Lord," Barzee states in the court document. But her attorney Scott Williams said he expects Atherton will find his client incompetent, based on the experts' reports.

Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell (search), 50, are charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the June 5, 2002, abduction of Smart, then 14. She was found with them nine months later.

Prosecutors say Mitchell, a drifter and self-styled prophet, and Barzee kept Smart as Mitchell's second wife for nine months in Utah and California. The couple also have been charged in the attempted abduction of an 18-year-old cousin of Smart, now 16.

On Dec. 1, Atherton accepted the reports from the two mental health experts, who agreed Barzee wouldn't be able to stand trial.

Barzee says in the motion that the experts were unable to "understand the special nature of my relationship with God and my role as a minister and servant unto Him."

"Their inability to understand is also a result of their different belief system, and the influence of Satan's subtle powers on them," she said.

If Barzee is declared incompetent, she probably would be taken to Utah State Hospital in Provo, where she would undergo treatment and evaluation for 90 days. She could be held until she was deemed mentally healthy -- or unable to be restored to competency, Williams said.

Mitchell has a competency hearing scheduled for Jan. 27.

One expert believes Mitchell is competent, despite having a narcissistic delusion, while another believes Mitchell suffers from a mental illness that should preclude him from trial, the judge has said.

That illness was characterized as a martyr syndrome, under which Mitchell sees himself as a Christlike figure unwilling to fight for himself.

Smart's father, Ed, said that if Barzee is found incompetent, he hopes Mitchell is as well because "I don't want to see two trials. That is the last thing I want to see.

"If he is marginally incompetent ... get them to the mental institute, on drugs or whatever to get them corrected and then try them both together," Ed Smart said.

Smart said his family is "not focusing on this. Elizabeth, I'm so happy with how she is doing, I couldn't be happier so I just don't worry about this," he said. "I'm sure the legal system will take its course. I just want to see justice served."