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Defense wants state charges against Mitchell dismissed

Published December 11, 2008 6:21 pm

3rd District » Lawyers say counts are useless because trial is unlikely.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Attorneys for Brian David Mitchell, the alleged kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart, have filed a motion asking for dismissal of the state charges against him.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled today before 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton.

Earlier this year, Atherton ruled that Mitchell could not be forcibly medicated to try to restore his mental competency.

State experts had testified Mitchell was unlikely to recover without the help of psychotropic drugs. But the judge was not convinced the drugs were "substantially likely" to restore Mitchell's competency.

Defense attorneys now claim it is "unnecessary and needlessly harsh," and therefore a violation of Utah's Constitution, to leave the charges of kidnapping and sexual abuse hanging over Mitchell's head when it is unlikely a trial will ever be held.

"These charges cause unnecessary anxiety and concern to an incompetent defendant," the defense claims.

Meanwhile, federal authorities began prosecuting Mitchell and his wife and codefendant, Wanda Eileen Barzee, for interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of minor.

The charges stem from an indictment handed down this year by a federal grand jury.

Atherton had ruled Barzee could be forcibly medicated, a process that has been under way at the Utah State Hospital since May.

Both Barzee and Mitchell had refused to voluntarily accept any kind of treatment from state hospital doctors.

Barzee, 62, and Mitchell, 54, are accused of kidnapping then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart on June 5, 2002, from her Federal Heights home. They were arrested in March 2003 while walking in Sandy with Smart. Mitchell is a self-proclaimed prophet who apparently wanted to make Elizabeth a plural wife along with Barzee.

shunt@sltrib.com