SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal on whether a woman accused in the 2002 abduction of then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart may be forcibly medicated in the hope she may become mentally fit to stand trial.
Wanda Barzee's attorneys contend a decision allowing the Utah State Hospital to forcibly medicate their client was wrong because the situation did not meet the criteria set by the U.S. Supreme Court, including that the medication was substantially likely to restore Barzee's competency.
After agreeing this week to hear the case, the court called for an expedited schedule. Although the Supreme Court's calendar has not been set yet for December, Deputy Attorney General Kris Leonard said the high court plans to hear oral arguments in early December.
Barzee, 60, was initially declared incompetent to stand trial in 2004 and ordered held at the state psychiatric hospital, where she has refused to participate in therapy. In June, Third District Judge Judith Atherton ruled Barzee meets all the requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court for a defendant to be forced to take medication.
Elizabeth was taken from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 and was found nine months later with Barzee and Brian David Mitchell, a homeless man who had once worked as a day laborer at her house. Barzee and Mitchell, also declared incompetent for trial, are charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.