Skip to main content

Elizabeth Smart kidnap suspect to stand trial in November

Brian David Mitchell is escorted into court in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July 2005.
Brian David Mitchell is escorted into court in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July 2005.
  • Brian David Mitchell is charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom in 2002
  • Smart, then 14, was found nine months later walking with Mitchell and his wife
  • Mitchell's attorneys apparently plan to ask for change of venue
  • Under a plea deal, Mitchell's wife agreed to cooperate in case against her husband

(CNN) -- A November 1 trial date has been set for Brian David Mitchell, who is suspected in the 2002 kidnapping of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart, said a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball set the trial date at a scheduling conference Friday, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Utah. Mitchell was not in court that day, she said.

The trial is expected to take two weeks, according to the case file. Mitchell's defense attorneys have apparently indicated they will file a motion asking for a change of venue, as the case file said Kimball set a May 26 deadline for the motion and agreed to hear arguments before July 11.

Mitchell is accused of abducting Smart, then 14, at knifepoint from her bedroom in her family's Salt Lake City, Utah, home in June 2002. Smart was found nine months later, walking down a street in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee. Mitchell, a drifter and self-described prophet who called himself "Emmanuel," had done some handyman work at the Smarts' home.

Barzee, now 64, pleaded guilty in November to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, she agreed to cooperate in the state and federal cases against her husband.

Earlier this month, Kimball ruled Mitchell, now 56, is competent to stand trial. State court proceedings against him have been on hold pending the outcome of the federal case.

Smart, now 21, testified in October as part of Mitchell's competency hearing that after kidnapping her, Mitchell took her to a wooded area behind her home and performed a mock marriage ceremony with her before sexually assaulting her. She testified that in the nine months of her captivity, no 24-hour period passed without Mitchell raping her.

Kimball's ruling on Mitchell's competency cannot be appealed until after the case concludes.

Barzee had been housed at the Utah State Hospital while courts determined her competency as well as that of her husband. A state court had ruled she could be forcibly medicated, and that ruling led federal prosecutors to file charges against her.

Last month, Barzee pleaded guilty but mentally ill in state court in the attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin a month after her kidnapping. In exchange for the plea to one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping, state prosecutors dropped charges against Barzee in Smart's abduction.

Federal prosecutors have recommended that Barzee serve a sentence of 15 years, but asked that her sentencing date be continued to allow for her participation in the case against Mitchell. She faces between one and 15 years in prison on the state charge, but prosecutors agreed to allow that sentence to run concurrently with the federal sentence.