SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Wanda Barzee was considered a victim, a follower of her husband, Brian David Mitchell.
That was the consensus of legal experts and noted psychiatrist Dr. Noel Gardner. That was a major distinction between Barzee and Mitchell.
Mitchell is serving a life sentencing for kidnapping and sexually abusing Elizabeth Smart in 2002. Barzee who was convicted of lesser crimes will finish her 15-year prison sentence next Wednesday and will be released from prison.
“In many ways, she was a victim of Brian Mitchell even though as an adult she participated in a horrific crime,” said Dr. Gardner.
He examined Mitchell and testified at his trial. But he also had access to Barzee’s personal records.
“I think she very much a follower (of Mitchell),” he said.
Thursday, Elizabeth Smart spoke publicly for the first time about Barzee’s pending release. And she is asking the state to reconsider its decision. She claimed Barzee is still a dangerous person.
“Do I believe that she is dangerous, yes,” Smart said. “But not just to me. I believe that she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community which is why our community should be worried.”
Dr. Gardner said he understands where Elizabeth is coming from.
“I’m sure the thought of Wanda getting out is extremely painful for Elizabeth and her family,” Dr. Gardner said. “It’s painful to even imagine what was that like for her.”
Reportedly, Barzee still follows Mitchell through his writings and bible. But Dr. Gardner said Barzee may either be thinking of her self-importance when she was with him or just reflecting on her past. Either way, he doesn’t believe Barzee is a threat.
“I don’t think this is somebody who is out wanting to chase little girls or to commit additional crimes,” Dr. Gardner said. “She is an insecure, uncertain person.”
Once Barzee is released she will be on supervised probation for five years. She must participate in a mental health program, find a job and check in with federal authorities once a week.