Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Refuses To Attend First Parole Hearing And Meet With Psychiatrist
Elizabeth Smart said it was "good news" that Wanda Barzee skipped her first chance for freedom.
The woman who once stole Elizabeth Smart's freedom had a chance to regain her own Tuesday, but she didn't show up for her parole hearing.
Wanda Barzee, 72, helped her husband Brian David Mitchell kidnap Smart in 2002, holding the Utah teen captive for nine months before Smart was rescued. Tuesday was Barzee's first opportunity to appear before a parole board, but she refused to attend, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Barzee also failed to meet with a psychiatrist, which was another mandatory requirement of gaining potential parole.
Smart's father, Ed Smart, said after the hearing that he would not have objected to Barzee's release if mental health officials had recommended it.
"Her refusal to come today seems like it's an indicator that she's still of the same mindset that she was back at the time she took Elizabeth," Smart told reporters.
Elizabeth Smart did not attend the hearing, but later said on Instagram that it was "good news" Barzee would not been released now.
"I do not think I am a vindictive or vengeful person, if change were truly possible in her case then perhaps parole/release could be justified," she wrote, adding that she'd recently learned Barzee continued to carry a manuscript that had been written by Mitchell.
This manuscript, Smart said, is where Mitchell discussed the message he believed he received from God to kidnap Smart and marry multiple wives.
"This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior 15+ years hasn’t changed her I don’t see how the future years will," Smart wrote. "I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again."
Smart also said she had been planning to attend the parole hearing but didn't arrive at the state prison until the hearing was already over because of a "silly mix-up."
Barzee is serving a 1-to-15 year sentence in the Utah State Prison. She is expected to be released in 2024, unless the parole board decides to release her earlier.
After her absence on Tuesday, the parole board will need to decide whether to issue another parole date, set another hearing or continue her sentence until it expires.
Angela Miklos, a parole board member, said it is not likely the parole board would decide to release Barzee without a completed mental health evaluation.
"Without that additional information, we're left, basically guessing what her current status is," she said, according to Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. "We will not be making any decision until we receive more information."
Scott C. Williams, Barzee's attorney, said he believes his client should already be released from prison based on the deal she reached in 2010 to plead guilty in federal court to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of Smart. She was serving time in a federal prison in Texas before she was released in 2016 and sent to the Utah State Prison.
Williams said the federal and state sentences should have been served concurrently.
"She should be out because 15 years has passed and I don't think, and I am trying to understand how the state of Utah thinks they can hold her more than 15 years on a 15-year sentence maximum," he said, according to Fox 13.
Mitchell, who abducted Smart from her bedroom and threatened to harm her family if she didn't cooperate, is serving a life sentence for kidnapping.
At the time of his arrest, Mitchell claimed he was a Mormon prophet. He was initially declared unable to stand trial by reason of insanity, but that ruling was eventually reversed.