A federal grand jury has indicted the couple accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and holding her captive for nine months.
The indictment handed down late Wednesday charges Brian David Mitchell, 54, and Wanda Eileen Barzee, 62, with interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines. The indictment in the 2002 kidnapping was done strictly to keep the option of a federal prosecution alive.
"We presented the case to the grand jury this week, prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, simply to preserve the option of a federal prosecution," U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman said in a statement to the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday.
Mitchell and Barzee are accused of snatching Smart from her bedroom in June 2002 and holding her captive for nine months. In March 2003, she was discovered walking down State Street in Sandy in the company of the homeless street preacher and his wife.
The couple has been charged in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping. The case is slowly working its way through the court process, stymied by complex legal and mental health issues surrounding the pair.
Mitchell proclaimed himself a "prophet" and purported to take Smart as one of his polygamous wives. He and Barzee have been housed at the Utah State Hospital after both being declared incompetent to stand trial. The Utah Supreme Court recently upheld a judge's decision to forcibly medicate her, to make her competent to stand trial.
Smart is now a college student at Brigham Young University.
"I think all of us feel very comfortable with the charges being filed," Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday. "(Elizabeth) said to me, 'Dad, if they do get out I'm sure he'll be coming back after me. I don't want to see him get out.'"
Tolman said he did not expect to have the couple taken into federal custody, nor appear in court to face the charges right away."Every decision we have made has been driven by our determination to bring about a successful prosecution a conviction on appropriate charges and an appropriate sentence," Tolman said in his statement. "When the prosecution is complete, whether it is state court or federal court, we want the Smart family and the community to be confident that justice is served."
E-mail: [email protected]