SALT LAKE CITY – Doctors on Tuesday began a forced medication treatment plan designed to restore the mental competency of a woman accused of kidnapping teenager Elizabeth Smart in 2002.
A judge's order issued Friday — and delivered to the hospital Monday — ordered "immediate medication" of Wanda Eileen Barzee and denied a request for a delay until her attorneys file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Utah State Hospital administrator Dallas Earnshaw said he could not comment on whether Barzee refused the treatments as she had in the past, or whether doctors had to use force to inject psychotropic medications.
"Very rarely would we actually have to hold somebody down," Earnshaw said. "In situations like this when we've gone through due process, that's explained and they typically will take the medication without any fuss or fight."
Scott Williams, Barzee's attorney, said he didn't know how his client had responded to doctors.
"We've not received any response to our request for information," Williams said.
Williams said he was filing an emergency petition with the Utah Supreme Court to block the medication process. Barzee's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to be filed Wednesday, Williams said.
Barzee, 62, and her estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell, face criminal charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault for allegedly abducting Smart, then 14, from her home in Salt Lake City's upscale Federal Heights neighborhood.
The transient couple were arrested in March 2003 after they were spotted walking through a city suburb with Smart, whom Mitchell had taken as his polygamous wife.
Barzee has been at the Provo psychiatric hospital since 2004, when she was first found incompetent to stand trial. Doctors have testified that Barzee claimed to be the "mother of Zion" and to receive messages from God through a television.
In 2006, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton said Barzee met the criteria for forced medication. Utah's high court upheld the ruling in December and last month Atherton directed the state hospital to begin the medication process.
Doctors had voluntarily delayed beginning medications pending Williams' announcement that he would seek a hearing before the U.S. high court. In her ruling last week, however, Atherton repeated her order and said attorneys had presented "no legitimate argument" for further delays.
Earnshaw said Tuesday doctors hope to know within a few weeks if Barzee is progressing toward competency.
Mitchell, 54, was also found incompetent for trial and is in the state hospital. Atherton has yet to decide whether Mitchell also meets the standards for forcible medication.