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Smart trial defendant described as manipulative

From Lena Jakobsson, In Session
Wanda Barzee says her husband demanded she "demonstrate sexual activity" in front of Elizabeth Smart.
Wanda Barzee says her husband demanded she "demonstrate sexual activity" in front of Elizabeth Smart.
  • Wanda Barzee says she regrets having succumbed to her husband's demands
  • Brian Mitchell played to her strong religious beliefs, estranged wife says
  • Witness says she was ordered to cook her daughter's pet rabbit, then serve it to her

A look back over the nine-month ordeal that changed Elizabeth Smart's life. Don't miss "Taken: The Kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart," Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET

Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN) -- The estranged wife of the man accused of kidnapping then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her family's Salt Lake City home in 2002 testified Friday that the defendant manipulated her into doing things by saying his orders were divine law.

"I was told that no matter how difficult I found the load to bear, I needed to follow the law or suffer eternal consequences," said Wanda Barzee about her husband, Brian Mitchell.

Mitchell played to his wife's strong religious beliefs, telling her that divine revelations required she carry out acts that included participating in the kidnapping, she said in her second and final day of testimony in her husband's trial.

"I was told that we were commanded to take 14-year-old young women and we were to snatch them out of the world and train them up in the ministries of God," said Barzee.

She is serving a sentence of up to 15 years after striking a plea deal last year with state and federal prosecutors for her role in the abduction and agreeing to testify for the prosecution. But the prosecution did not call her, the defense did.

Mitchell used the revelations to explain his heavy drinking, his engaging in oral sex with Smart and his demand that she "demonstrate sexual activity" in front of Smart, said Mitchell.

"He never expressed any remorse about kidnapping Ms. Smart, did he?" Prosecutor Francis Viti asked. "No," Barzee responded.

Barzee said she helped Mitchell in his meticulous preparation for Smart's abduction, from setting up the bucket that the girl was to use as her bathroom to setting up the tent in which the girl was to be raped.

"I was told that I needed to listen to the plan of my husband," she said. Asked if that meant she "needed to be submissive and obey?" Barzee responded, "Yes."

Mitchell told her prior to the Smart abduction "that I needed to take seven wives into my heart and home," Barzee said, adding that the news upset her greatly.

One such attempt involved a fellow church member named Kelly who was eight months pregnant with another man's child, said Barzee, who added that she agreed to Kelly becoming another wife to Mitchell.

Mitchell ultimately ended the marriage with Kelly for reasons that Barzee said were unclear.

An attempt to recruit a shoe store worker named Julie to become one of Mitchell's wives failed, she said.

During the winter of 2001, Mitchell revealed a new divine order, Barzee said. "We were given the commandment to take young girls, between the ages of 10 to 14 years old."

Mitchell would go downtown to "minister," which she said meant to beg, "and stalk young girls out -- try to find out where they lived."

On June 4, 2002, the night of the abduction, she and Mitchell fought, Barzee said. "I just knew how drastically my life was going to change," she said, adding that she was "devastated" by the prospect of taking the girl by force.

Barzee, who had taken medication for mental illness prior to marrying Mitchell, said she stopped taking it when they were together at his insistence.

She said her biggest fear was losing Mitchell and that she was terrified of being alone. Barzee wept when recounting having been forced by Mitchell to cook her 10-year-old daughter's pet rabbit and serve it to her. "Brian had me tell her that it was chicken," said the mother of six from a previous marriage.

Barzee's testimony came after her husband was escorted from the courtroom after he began singing hymns, as he has been doing throughout the trial.

Mitchell faces life in prison if he is convicted of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes.

Barzee is being held at a federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, where she has been receiving mental health treatment, including medication.