Judge denies forced medication request
SALT LAKE CITY — A judge denied on Thursday the state’s request to forcibly medicate the man charged in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.
Third District Judge Judith Atherton said in the ruling that she is not convinced anti-psychotic medication would restore Brian David Mitchell’s competency.
Mitchell, who is diagnosed with a rare delusional disorder, has twice been found incompetent for trial. He is being housed at the Utah State Hospital and has refused to take medications in the past.
Atherton said evidence from case studies and anecdotal evidence provided during a November 2007 hearing by an expert witness for the state were “not scientifically reliable enough” to predict success rates in treating the particular circumstances in Mitchell’s case.
“Not the answer we were hoping for,” said Alicia Cook, an assistant Salt Lake County attorney. “Given the limited amount of information about delusional disorder, it’s difficult for me to know what more we could have given.”
Other options, including civil commitment of Mitchell, will now be considered after consultation with doctors at the state hospital, she said.
Smart was abducted from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 at age 14 and found with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, in a suburb in March 2003. Authorities have said Mitchell took Smart as a spiritual wife to fulfill a religious prophesy.
Messages left for Mitchell’s court-appointed attorneys were not immediately returned on Thursday.
Ed Smart, Elizabeth’s father, said he was surprised by Atherton’s ruling.
“As usual it seems like the perpetrator has more rights than the victim,” he said.
Although the family’s primary concern is keeping Mitchell “behind bars” and out of the community, Ed Smart said he’s not entirely comfortable with alternatives like civil commitment.
“It would certainly achieve the same goal, although I understand that if [the hospital] decided to, they could let him out,” Smart said. “I’m afraid I would not want to leave it in the hospital’s hands.”
Mitchell and Barzee are charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
Barzee also was found incompetent to stand trial. In her case, Atherton ruled in June 2006 that forced medication was appropriate.
The Utah Supreme Court upheld the ruling in December 2007 and the state hospital began treatment earlier this year.