Lead Prosecutor In Smart Case Believes Barzee Story Is Not Over
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A man who was once the lead prosecutor in the Elizabeth Smart case said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if convicted kidnapper Wanda Barzee’s scheduled release on Sept. 19 will mark the end of the story.
“Emotionally, I thought, ‘boy, that’s a quick sentence,” said Kent Morgan, a former prosecutor with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. “Do we want Wanda Barzee out in public again? What’s the assurance that the potential victims out there are safe from her? I know that the Board of Pardons and the people in the penal system look at those same things, too, and they’ve made their decision and I respect that. What my emotion continues to tell me, though, is this isn’t over.”
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced earlier Tuesday that it had to give Barzee credit for federal time served, moving up her expected release date from as far away as 2024, to just eight days away.
“This is not a discretionary release,” Utah Board of Pardons and Parole director of administrative services Greg Johnson said. “In many cases, the board will hold a hearing and based on the person’s readiness and the sentencing guidelines may release a person on parole. (In) this case, the board has held her as long as it legally can.”
Johnson said the board had previously been operating under the understanding that Barzee’s time spent in federal prison did not count toward her state sentence, but a recent legal review changed the board’s view.
Fellow convicted kidnapper Brian David Mitchell is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.
Morgan said his review of evidence and testimony showed Barzee played an equal role in the abduction and abuse of Smart.
“She was a terrible person who caused injury and abuse to Elizabeth Smart just as much as Brian David Mitchell,” Morgan said. “She participated in the abuse of Elizabeth Smart — she didn’t just stand and watch.”
Morgan expressed concern about Barzee’s potential to reoffend, or to violate the terms of her supervised release.
The release extends for a term of 60 months and requires Barzee to register as a sex offender, to undergo mental health treatment, and to take whatever medications she is prescribed.
Barzee’s attorney said he was confident in the plan for the woman going forward.
“I hope for the benefit of Wanda and society through the supervision of federal services,” the attorney, Scott Williams, said.
Morgan said the Smart case is one he still reflects on and will never forget.
“To this day, I think about Elizabeth Smart and how she stood up to the great evil that was against her,” Morgan said.
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