Now, seven years after it began, Wanda Barzee, one of the two defendants charged in the case, has pleaded guilty and begged forgiveness.
“I am so sorry, Elizabeth, for all the pain and suffering I have caused you and your family,” Barzee, 64, said. “It is my hope that you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Smart, now 22 and preparing to serve a mission in Paris for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was not in court. But her father, Ed Smart, made a statement there.
“I just hope that Wanda realizes what she did and that it was absolutely wrong and absolutely horrible,” he said.
Barzee, who wore a black skirt and black flats, pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
Sentencing for Barzee was set for May 19.
Barzee will be returned to the Utah State Hospital until her sentencing. She also will plead guilty in state court under the plea deal to one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping and will cooperate in the case against her estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell.
Smart was recovered nine months after the abduction after a motorist saw her walking on a suburban street with Barzee and Mitchell.
Barzee’s role in the alleged abduction has garnered less attention than Mitchell’s.
At a hearing last month, Smart said that within hours of the abduction, Mitchell took her as a polygamous wife and then raped her. Smart said Barzee washed the teen’s feet and dressed her in robes before the ceremony.
Barzee often became upset over Mitchell’s relationship with Smart, but that sentiment would never last, Smart said.
State cases filed in March 2003 against Barzee and Mitchell have been stymied by rulings that both were incompetent for trial. Barzee and Mitchell were indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2008.
Barzee’s plea comes a month after a Utah State Hospital report to a state judge said that 15 months of court-ordered treatments with anti-psychotic medications had restored her competency.
“No issues of competency will be raised in the federal court matter,” Williams told The Associated Press on Monday.
Mitchell has also been found incompetent for trial in state court. A judge refused to order him to undergo forced medications.
On Nov. 30, Mitchell is scheduled for a 10-day competency hearing in his federal court case.
Prosecutors claim that a psychiatrist who evaluated Mitchell contends he is exaggerating or faking psychiatric symptoms to avoid prosecution.