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Kidnap Suspects Appear in Court

In video link from jail, the couple arrested in Utah abduction stand expressionless.

March 20, 2003|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Charged with felonies that could send them to prison for life, the suspects in the Elizabeth Smart abduction stood expressionless Wednesday during their first court appearance -- by video from the Salt Lake County Jail.

Brian David Mitchell, 49, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 57, were ordered held on bail of $10 million each and were appointed public defenders in a hearing that lasted only a few minutes.

Each was visible from the shoulders up as they appeared separately on television screens. Both stood impassively as charges were read; Barzee blinked repeatedly.

They were charged Tuesday with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the June 5 abduction.

They also were charged with aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping for allegedly trying to abduct Elizabeth's 18-year-old cousin on July 24.

When asked if his name was Brian David Mitchell, the self-proclaimed prophet to the homeless responded: "That is the name that the world calls me by, yes." Barzee acknowledged her own name.

The couple, who lived by panhandling in Salt Lake City for at least a decade, say they have no money. Their next court appearance is set for April 1, when they are expected to enter pleas.

Prosecutors said Elizabeth may be asked to testify.

Smart family spokesman Chris Thomas said the family would rather not have Elizabeth take the stand, "but they're willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that these two individuals receive the proper punishment."

Thomas also said family members will no longer answer media questions about Elizabeth's nine-month ordeal.

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