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Wanda Barzee refuses to attend parole hearing

SALT LAKE CITY – Attorneys for the woman convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart made their case before the state parole board, even though she was a no-show.  They question whether or not the state has the authority to hold Wanda Barzee.

Barzee’s chair was empty as parole board members talked about her case.  Utah Board of Pardons and Parole Director of Administrative Services Greg Johnson says Barzee has a right to refuse to attend the hearing.

“The board can still proceed to make any decision it needs to, whether she appeared or not,” according to Johnson.

However, Barzee also refused a psychological evaluation, and Johnson says that’s non-negotiable.

Johnson says, “Certainly, the board is concerned from a legal standpoint that a ‘guilty and mentally ill’ plea in court requires the board to have psychological information.”

(Photo Credit: Al Hartmann, Pool, File, Sentencing Hearing 2010)

Her release date is scheduled for August of 2024.  However, her attorney, Scott Williams questions if the parole board has the authority to keep her until then.  He maintains that state and federal prosecutors made a deal with Barzee, offering her one to 15 years in prison with credit for time served for her help in the case against her husband, Brian David Mitchell.

“The settlement agreement, which was joint with the United States government contemplated a concurrent sentence with credit back to her original arrest which has been more than 15 years [ago],” Williams says.

Since Barzee was arrested in 2003, Williams believes the time she agreed to serve has already passed.

Williams says, “The United States government talked about the appropriateness of a 15-year sentence after all she had done.”

Parole board members say they’ll take two to four weeks to make their decision.