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Plea deal sought in Elizabeth Smart case

Ed Smart doesn’t want his daughter to relive the ordeal

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Brian David Mitchell

Brian David Mitchell

The father of Elizabeth Smart is pushing for a plea agreement.

"I'd rather see it not go to trial," Ed Smart said Tuesday of the criminal case against his daughter's alleged kidnapper.

Street preacher Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee are accused of taking Elizabeth Smart from the bedroom of her Federal Heights home in June 2002, launching a massive search that captured national attention.

When chances of Smart's survival appeared slim to none, the trio was found walking along State Street in Sandy on March 12, 2003.

Mitchell and Barzee were indicted by a state grand jury Sept. 4, 2003, charged with aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping.

Barzee was found incompetent to stand trial Jan. 9 and sent to the Utah State Hospital.

Meanwhile, the case against Mitchell has moved at a snail's pace due to a number of defense motions filed over his competency and public access to court proceedings.

A second competency hearing for Mitchell was scheduled to begin Thursday. But that hearing was in danger of being delayed, according to some media reports, thus possibly delaying Mitchell's trial scheduled to begin Feb. 1.

Ed Smart said he wants the ordeal to be over with. And if the defendant can receive a sentence through a plea agreement that is essentially as long as the one he might receive through a trial and possible conviction, Smart said that's the route that should be taken.

"Is pushing for every last issue going to make a difference? If it would, we would do that," he said. "(But) if something could be worked out and avoid all the nightmare, why (go to trial?)"

One of the Smart family's biggest concerns is having Elizabeth relive her nightmarish ordeal by testifying in court.

Smart said it doesn't matter to him if Mitchell is convicted on three counts or all six, as long as he is sent to prison for life.

"We are not trying to lessen what Mitchell did or what the bottom line is for him. I do not want to see him out of prison. I never want to see him out. Elizabeth and Lois do not want to see him out," he said. "Whether he stays in prison on two charges or three charges, just as long as he's in there."

Smart said he and his family have regular contact with the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office and they are supportive of the office's actions.

The DA's office declined comment Tuesday.

Even if Mitchell's competency hearing is delayed Thursday, there are several outstanding motions that 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton could rule on, including whether to allow several motions filed by the defense to remain sealed.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com