A mere seven years after his arrest, Brian David Mitchell has been ruled competent to stand trial for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. His defense attorney expects the trial will take place last year. Experts’ opinion of Mitchell’s mental status has been divided and everyone concedes that there’s a lot wrong with him, but the judge believes he is capable of assisting his defense and is faking some of his symptoms in order to avoid a trial. Mitchell’s wife and partner in crime, Wanda Barzee, was also initially ruled incompetent, but later on she pleaded guilty.
This is basically going to be a show trial — I mean, what does the state have left to prove? Everyone knows what Mitchell did and I don’t envy his lawyers, having to advocate for that piece of scum. This case has dragged on long enough.
Wanda Barzee, Brian David Mitchell’s accomplice in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, pleaded guilty today. She got fifteen years in prison. She’s already spent the last five years in a mental hospital. It’s only recently that they decide to forcibly medicate her and she became competent enough to stand trial. As to whether Mitchell will is up for grabs — the courts say he can’t be forcibly medicated.
Barzee apologized to Elizabeth and her family for the suffering she caused them, which is only proper. I feel a little sorry for her. She seems like a pathetic, weak woman. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be punished for her actions.
Elizabeth Smart, who (as I am about to unnecessarily explain) was abducted by Brian Mitchell and held for nine months back in 2002, has testified at a hearing to determine Mitchell’s competency and has detailed the horrors of her captivity for the first time.
Elizabeth is now 21 and a music major at Brigham Young University. She’s grown into a beautiful young woman. The details she gives don’t surprise me a bit: rape several times a day, forced to take drugs and alcohol, constantly threatened with death, etc. Elizabeth seems shockingly well-adjusted for having gone through all that — evidence for my theory that human beings are amazingly resilient and have the potential to bounce back from anything.
Elizabeth also says that Mitchell seemed perfectly rational all the time while he held her and only started going on about religion and being a prophet when he wanted something. She thinks his insanity thing is an act. I have no opinion on that, it’s not for me to decide, but frankly I’m starting to wonder if this guy is ever going to be tried. It’s been six years since his arrest and they haven’t even decided whether he’s competent or not, never mind set a trial date. It doesn’t really matter, I think, as long as he’s locked up forever.
You can read some of Elizabeth’s testimony here.
As for Wanda Barzee, Mitchell’s wife and accomplice, the press has got hold of some letters she wrote to her mom where she speaks of wanting to repent of her sins. But she doesn’t really talk about Elizabeth, only says that both she and Elizabeth were “victims” of Mitchell. She hasn’t been declared competent yet either, but she seems to be on the way there now that they’ve forced her to take antipsychotic drugs.
The New York Daily News
The Associated Press
The London Daily Telegraph
The Salt Lake Tribune