- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

From combined dispatches
SALT LAKE CITY The suspects in the Elizabeth Smart abduction case made their first court appearance via video yesterday and were appointed attorneys because they cannot afford their own.
Brian David Mitchell, 49, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 57, were charged Tuesday with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the June 5 abduction. Bail was set for both at $10 million.
The two suspects appeared separately by video from the county jail in a hearing that lasted only a few minutes. Each was visible from the shoulders up on TV monitors. Both stood impassively as the charges were read against them, though Mrs. Barzee blinked her eyes repeatedly.
The courtroom was full of bikers in black leather jackets who make it a practice of attending court hearings involving child abuse to lend support to victims.
When Judge Tyrone Medley asked Mr. Mitchell if his name was Brian David Mitchell, he responded, "That is the name that the world calls me by, yes." Mrs. Barzee simply acknowledged her own name.
Under the name "Immanuel David Isaiah," Mr. Mitchell had authored a rambling tract that promised to restore the "blessing" of polygamy. He reportedly had said that a vision commanded him to take seven young brides.
Another court appearance was set for April 1, when the two are expected to enter their pleas. Separate attorneys were appointed for Mr. Mitchell and Mrs. Barzee.
No members of Elizabeth's immediate family were present at the hearing. Attorney Greg Skordas has been retained by the Smart family to represent Elizabeth's interests during the prosecutions.
Mr. Skordas said the family was concerned about safeguarding the girl's privacy and hoped some arrangement could be made to reduce the impact of testifying in person.
The family had hoped the sexual-abuse charge would not be pressed, but Mr. Skordas noted that the charge carried a mandatory minimum of six years in prison, something the family favored.
"Our goal is to make this as painless as possible for her," Mr. Skordas told reporters after yesterday's court appearance.
On Tuesday, District Attorney David Yocom said it was important to add the sexual-assault charges so that if Mr. Mitchell was convicted and eventually freed he would carry the label of sexual offender for the rest of his life.
"We are not dealing with just a religious zealot; we are dealing with a predatory sex offender," Mr. Yocom said.
Mr. Mitchell and Mrs. Barzee could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. They also were charged with aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping because police say they tried to abduct Elizabeth's 18-year-old cousin.
The hearing came a day after charges were filed, when prosecutors offered the first details of the torment they said Elizabeth, now 15, endured at the hands of the self-proclaimed prophet and his wife during a nine-month ordeal.
Mr. Skordas said the Smart family was not eager to see Mrs. Barzee receive a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying against Mr. Mitchell. "The family feels Barzee is equally as involved as Mitchell," he said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Mitchell entered Elizabeth's bedroom using a knife to cut a window screen, marched her at knife point to a camp four miles away, then "raped or attempted to rape her, or commit forcible sexual abuse against her," with Mrs. Barzee's help.
The couple held Elizabeth at the campsite until Oct. 8, when her captors took her to California, where they stayed until March 5, court papers said. Elizabeth was found with the couple on March 12 in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.
About 40 bikers were in court to lend moral support to Elizabeth and her family.
The appearance of tough-looking men in their leather jackets and long hair helps children who are victims and often still fearful of their attackers, biker Roger Wise said.
"It's empowering for the child to have somebody like that," he said, pointing to a particularly tough-looking biker, "stand next to them."

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