Woman Charged with Kidnapping Elizabeth Smart Pleads Guilty and Says Sorry

Wanda Eileen Barzee, the woman charged with kidnapping teenager Elizabeth Smart in 2002, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of unlawful transportation of a minor and kidnapping. The 64-year-old says she will plead guilty to state charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping.

At her court hearing on Tuesday, Barzee issued an apology to Smart for the role she played in the teenager’s abduction. As part of Barzee’s plea agreement, she will help prosecutors with their federal and state criminal cases against Brian David Mitchell, who is her husband.

Now that she has pleaded guilty, Barzee is expected to serve 15 years in federal prison. Her formal sentencing has not yet taken place. If Barzee had been convicted, she might have been sentenced to life in prison.

Mitchell and Barzee are accused of kidnapping Smart, then age 14, from her home. Barzee has admitted that she encouraged her husband to abduct the young girl and that they planned the kidnapping together.

In her plea agreement, Barzee says that she helped her husband control, confine, sexually assault, and transport Smart out of state and back. Smart was found with the couple nine months after her abduction.

Barzee, who was been staying at a Utah State Hospital, was recently declared competent to stand trial following years of being forced to take psychotropic drugs while at the mental hospital. Her husband’s competency hearing is scheduled to continue on November 30. His defense attorney says that he is incompetent and cannot defend himself during a criminal trial.

Kidnapper apologizes to Elizabeth Smart, will cooperate, CNN.com, November 18, 2009
Captor of Elizabeth Smart to serve 15 years, Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Read the Plea Agreement (PDF)

Timeline of Smart Case

Plea Agreements
A plea bargain resolves a criminal case that could take months to conclude during a court trial. The outcome of a case is not usually a guarantee when a criminal trial is involved and a plea bargain can allow a defendant to receive a more lenient sentence for pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

An experienced Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether going to trial or striking a plea deal will help you achieve the best outcome for your criminal case. You deserve the best defense available.

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