Wanda Eileen Barzee

Doctors at the Utah State Hospital have gotten legal permission to begin forcibly medicating Wanda Eileen Barzee, who is charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.

Hospital superintendent Dallas Earnshaw said the facility got notice on Tuesday that a stay on forcibly medicating Barzee had been lifted by the Utah Supreme Court. As a result, the hospital staff will now begin medicating Barzee — even though she objects. The medical treatment was ordered earlier by 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton.

Barzee, 62, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, 54, have been charged with kidnapping and several other felonies in connection with the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when taken from her Federal Heights home on June 5, 2002. Smart was found alive with Barzee and Mitchell in March, 2003, returned to her family, and has since gone on to become a student at Brigham Young University.

The judge in 2004 found Barzee to be incompetent to stand trial and sent her to the hospital to be evaluated and treated as needed to restore her competency. However, Barzee resisted treatment. The judge ordered that medication be provided forcibly, but the Utah Supreme Court stopped that to give Barzee's lawyers a chance to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court refused to hear the case, which cleared the way for Atherton's order to be implemented.

Earnshaw could not comment on Barzee, or any particular patient, but said in general that all patients are given an assessment by a team of mental health experts including a psychiatrist when patients arrive at the hospital.

Treatment options are then evaluated after a diagnosis is made regarding an individual's illness or condition.

Mitchell, meanwhile, also has been deemed to be incompetent to stand trial and also is at the hospital. His case in Utah's 3rd District Court is still pending and the judge has not ruled on medication for him.


E-mail: lindat@desnews.com