SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Wanda Barzee wasn’t the priority of prosecutors in 2010. They wanted Brian David Mitchell.
This according to a former prosecutor with the Salt Lake District attorney’s office. Barzee will be released from prison Wednesday after serving 15-years for her role in the kidnapping and rape of Elizabeth Smart in 2002.
Kent Morgan was one of the main prosecutors during the initial phase of Barzee’s trial. But he left the office before she was sentenced. Morgan said he was still kept in the loop about the dealings with Barzee.
“There was an effort at that time since Brian David Mitchell was waiting for trial to eliminate Wanda Barzee as a defendant and to get whatever plea was necessary and whatever sentencing bargaining was necessary,” Morgan said.
And that meant prosecutors wanted to end her case quickly. But it took nearly a decade when competency issues came into play.
Finally in May of 2010 Barzee accepted a plea offer and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to the court record, the sentence was to run concurrent to her federal sentence. Barzee, like Mitchell, was also tried and convicted in federal court.
“Court orders term to run concurrent with federal sentence,” the court record in 2010 noted.
Morgan said everyone knew what the terms were even Barzee and the Smart family. At her sentencing, she spoke publicly for the first time.
“I just want to say how sorry I am,” Barzee said in 2010. “I know the gravity of my crimes and how serious they are. I’m just so sorry again for all the pain and suffering I caused upon the Smart family.”
Following her sentencing in 2010, Elizabeth’s father, Ed Smart told reporters they reluctantly agreed to the deal.
“I think that Elizabeth felt it wasn’t strong enough but to have it come to an end, it’s been so many years,” Smart said.
Last Week, Elizabeth Smart pleaded with the Utah Board of Pardons to reconsider her release. She claimed Barzee was a danger to the community. But a spokesman for the board said Barzee has served her sentence and there isn’t anything to prevent her release.
Brett Tolman who is the Smart family attorney agreed with the board’s position. But he said the Smart family will be monitoring Barzee’s 5-year probation. One of those conditions for Barzee’s release is a requirement she participates in a mental health program.
“If she fails to do that, the judge could send her back to prison,” Tolman said.
Barzee will be required to live in Utah under the terms of her probation. But where she will live remains uncertain.
Her mother, Dora C. hopes people will give her a chance.
“She’s got to come out sometime and be on her own,” said her mother. “I’d like to find out where she is going to go. She can’t come here because this isn’t my home. But I want to give her a big hug.”
At midnight, September 19, the inmate known as inmate number 195557 can be free to leave.