Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

U.S. woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, 14, is being freed

U.S. woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, 14, is being freed

Smart sharply criticized her early release, saying in a statement: 'It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced Tuesday that it reversed its original decision and determined it had mistakenly not given Barzee credit for her time served in federal prison.

The Utah court sentenced Barzee on May 21, 2010 to a term of 1-15 years in the Utah State Prison for aggravated kidnapping as a second-degree felony.

Wanda Barzee, pictured in court during a forced medication hearing in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 16, 2006.

Brian David Mitchell, Barzee's husband, remains behind bars and is serving life in prison for kidnapping and raping Smart, who was 14 when she was taken.

A woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart in 2002 will be freed from a United States prison more than five years earlier than expected.

The kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart gripped the United States media in 2002 and 2003, ultimately leading to the imprisonment of abductor Brian Mitchell and his accomplice Wanda Barzee after their arrest by police. However, the news release goes on: "based on further review and advice from legal counsel, the Board must count the time in federal prison as credit to the Utah sentence and therefore Ms. Barzee's sentence ends on September 19, 2018". She was released from a federal prison in Texas after completing her sentence in 2016 - and returned to the Utah prison system to serve a state sentence. "I am trying to understand how and why this is happened and exploring possible options".

Wanda Barzee, convicted for role in Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, to be released from prison September 19

According to a statement from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole: 'Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the Board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee's state sentence.

Smart's abduction from her bedroom at knifepoint by a man who came in through an open kitchen window triggered waves of fear among parents around the country.

Smart, now married with two children, has written a book about the harrowing ordeal and helped make a Lifetime movie and documentary about the crime and her life.

Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 - almost nine years after Smart's abduction.

Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years.

The couple kept Smart for nine months until authorities found her in walking down a street in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City just 18 miles from her family's residence. In exchange for her plea, she agreed to cooperate in the state and federal cases against Mitchell, her husband.

In June, the parole board calculated her sentence would continue through January 2024, however that did not account for time served in federal prison. She is now a child safety activist.

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