Utah State Prison
FILE - This April 8, 2016, file photo, provided by Utah State Prison shows Wanda Barzee. Barzee, a woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap then-Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, refused to attend a hearing Tuesday, June 12, 2018, before the state parole board that could have helped her get out of prison earlier.

UTAH STATE PRISON — Wanda Barzee has been denied parole.

Barzee, 72, who along with her husband Brian David Mitchell, kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002 and held her captive until their arrests nine months later, was granted a rehearing in January of 2023, which will be one year shy of serving her full sentence.

Until then, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has ordered Barzee to get another mental health examination as well as a risk assessment to determine how likely she would be to re-offend if released.

"The board may consider an earlier rehearing if Ms. Barzee is willing to cooperate with a mental health evaluation," the board wrote in its decision.

After years of delays to her case due to questions over competency, Barzee struck a plea deal to settle both her federal and state court cases in 2010. After serving time in a federal prison in Texas, she was returned to Utah in 2016 to serve the remainder of her sentence.

Barzee pleaded guilty and mentally ill in state court to the 2002 attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, who was also 14 at the time, and sentenced to up to 15-years in prison.

Barzee declined to attend her last parole hearing on June 12.

Her attorney, Scott Williams, however, told reporters that he believed his client had already served her full sentence. Judges agreed to run the two sentences concurrently because Barzee cooperated in the federal prosecution of Mitchell.

Williams argued that Barzee has already served more than 15 years, including time in custody after her arrest. The plea agreement never contemplated her coming back into state jurisdiction, he said.

9 comments on this story

"I'm 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. "I didn't ever expect Wanda Barzee to come back to the Utah State Prison, and in my opinion, neither did any of the representatives of the state of Utah or the United States government that I negotiated with."

In its decision, the pardons board noted that Barzee's time in federal prison resulted in her state prison time being "tolled." She was granted more than 2,600 days of time served for the years she was in the Utah State Hospital and Salt Lake County Jail, but she still had 2,800 days remaining on her sentence when she was returned to Utah, the board stated.