Eight years after Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her own bed in the middle of the night, one of her kidnappers is finally being sentenced.
Wanda Eileen Barzee, 64, was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of kidnapping as part of her role in abducting Smart, and she’ll receive credit for time already served. State courts dropped their charges against Barzee after she plead guilty but mentally ill, but she’ll still be sentenced for attempting to kidnap Smart’s cousin a month after she and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, kidnapped Smart. That attempt was unsuccessful.
The sentence comes as part of a plea agreement that assures that Barzee will cooperate with authorities in their case against Mitchell. “The United States believes that a 15-year sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense, promotes respect for the law and provides just punishment, especially considering the defendant’s past cooperation and continued willingness to cooperate in this case in the future,” U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen told CNN.com.
The delay in sentencing has been caused by competency rulings on both Barzee and Mitchell. Both have now been ruled competent to stand trial, and Mitchel’s will begin in November of this year. Barzee apologized to Elizabeth Smart after pleading guilty, saying:
“I’m greatly humbled as I realize how much Elizabeth Smart has been victimized and the role I played in it,” she said. “I’m so sorry, Elizabeth, for all the pain and suffering I have caused you and your family. It is my hope that you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me one day.”
Whether or not they’ve found it in their hearts to forgive her kidnappers, this is the first step in a long journey towards closure for the Smart family.
Photo: Tim Pearce, Los Gatos, Flickr