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Smart kidnap suspect ruled unfit for trial

A judge ruled Friday that one of the two people charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart  is not competent to stand trial and will be committed to a state hospital.
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of the two people charged with kidnapping young Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom is not competent to stand trial and will be committed to a state hospital, a judge ruled Friday.

Wanda Barzee’s competency will be reviewed again at an April 15 hearing, Judge Judith Atherton said.

Barzee, 58, earlier this week waived her right to a hearing to contest the findings of two mental health experts who found her not competent to stand trial.

She did not speak at Friday’s hearing but nodded twice after being asked if she made the statements included in her waiver request. She smiled while speaking with her attorneys after the ruling and did not speak to reporters.

She doesn't agree
In the waiver motion, Barzee had asked the court to rule “at its discretion” without an evidence hearing but added that she did not agree with the experts who found her incompetent.

“I do not believe myself to be mentally ill or infirm or incompetent in the eyes of the Lord,” Barzee said in the court document.

She said 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.”

Barzee and her husband, drifter and self-styled prophet Brian David Mitchell, 50, are charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the June 5, 2002, abduction of Elizabeth, who was 14 at the time.

Spouse hearing Jan. 27
The couple allegedly kept Elizabeth as Mitchell’s second wife for nine months in Utah and California. They were found March 12 about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City. Barzee and Mitchell also were charged in the attempted abduction of the girl’s 18-year-old cousin, Jessica Wright — seven weeks after Elizabeth, now 16, was taken.

Mitchell’s competency hearing was scheduled for Jan. 27-28. District Attorney David Yocom said that the two mental health evaluators assigned to Mitchell disagree on whether he is competent.

Also Friday, court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer announced that Mitchell’s public defender, David Biggs, is leaving the Salt Lake City office. It wasn’t immediately clear how Biggs’ departure would affect the case. A call to his office Friday was not immediately returned.