Mitchell, Barzee charged in Smart case

Deseret News/March 18, 2003
By Angie Welling and Pat Reavy

Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ilene Barzee were charged Tuesday with the kidnapping and sexual assault of Elizabeth Smart and the attempted kidnapping of her cousin.

Bail for each defendant was set at $10 million.

The Salt Lake District Attorney's Office Tuesday charged Mitchell and Barzee each with five first-degree felony counts, including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary, and one second-degree felony count of attempted aggravated kidnapping.

Mitchell and Barzee are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Four of the charges - two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count each of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary - pertain to Elizabeth, who was taken from her bedroom in the early morning hours of June 5. The remaining two charges, attempted aggravated kidnapping and a second count of aggravated burglary, are in connection with a July 24 break-in at the home of Elizabeth's cousin, Jessica Wright.

The Smart family has made it clear they do not want Elizabeth victimized a second time by having to relive her nine-month ordeal either in court or the media. Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom asked members of the media during a Tuesday news conference to honor Elizabeth's privacy and not ask any questions regarding the sexual assault charges.

When asked whether Smart could avoid the witness stand in a trial, Yocom acknowledged she may have to testify about her assault in court. However, he said options such as videotaped testimony or a closed courtroom were available.

"We will do what we can to look out for Elizabeth's interests," Yocom said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said federal charges would come later if necessary. In fact, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Richard Lambert said there may not be a need for federal charges to ever be filed depending on the outcome of the state case.

Yocom said both Mitchell and Barzee would be tried together, although they may be retaining separate attorneys. He also clarified Tuesday that Larry Long, who told a Salt Lake City TV station that he would represent Mitchell, was never retained by Mitchell and was not in fact an attorney in the case.

Long was admitted to the Utah State Bar in 1969 and practices in both state and federal courts. The bar publicly reprimanded him in 1996 for failing to inform his client, charged with driving under the influence, of a proposed plea agreement and for withdrawing from the case without notifying his client. Long was placed on probation with the bar for six months and required to attend an ethics class.

Federal public defenders, including prominent Utah defense attorney Ronald Yengich, met briefly with Mitchell, 49, and his 57-year-old wife last week at the jail. However, the attorneys left when it became clear federal charges were not immediately forthcoming.

Yengich, who contracts with the federal office, has declined to comment about his possible involvement in the case.

Prosecutors interviewed 15-year-old Elizabeth on Monday in preparing their case. Although members of the Smart family say they want to see Mitchell and Barzee prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, they are also concerned about Elizabeth being victimized a second time by having to relive the past nine months in court.

"We will hold the district attorney accountable for any action that victimizes her a second time," said Smart family spokesman Chris Thomas.

The Smart family has retained an attorney to protect Elizabeth's interests during the upcoming prosecution. The Deseret News has been asked not to release the attorney's name at this time.

Asked whether that meant the Smart family would do what it could to keep Elizabeth off the witness stand in any trial, including approving some type of plea agreement for her alleged captors, Thomas said it was difficult to speculate what would be asked of her.

The Smarts have been brushing up on victims' rights and have talked to a number of people in recent days, including "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh and Patty Hearst, Thomas said.

The Smart family, meanwhile, is speaking out against comments made by Long and Mitchell's father, Shirl Mitchell. Both men said Brian Mitchell wasn't quite the monster he had been portrayed as because he did not kill Elizabeth.

"Those comments speak for themselves," Thomas said.

Long told KUTV-TV that Mitchell referred to Elizabeth's nine-month ordeal as a "call from God," not a kidnapping, and said the two were in love, which elicited a strong response from Elizabeth's father.

"The definition of love is not kidnapping, coercion, assault, degradation or ripping one's life of identity or self-respect," Thomas remembers Ed Smart saying. "Mitchell will be punished for his crimes."

Also on Monday, KSL TV reported that Elizabeth was able to point out to investigators during her helicopter trip Saturday exactly where Mitchell and Barzee kept her for two months in the foothills of Dry Canyon about three miles above her house.

Investigators found a shelter dug out with board on top. The wooden board would have prevented infrared cameras from the Utah Department of Public Safety's helicopter from spotting them.

A knife, a rope and other evidence was also found at the campsite, according to KSL.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.