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Kidnapping suspects face charges in court

©Associated Press

March 20, 2003


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 county jail.

Brian David Mitchell, 49, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 57, were ordered held on $10-million bail each and were appointed public defenders.

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 cousin.

Their next court date was scheduled for April 1, where 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 questions about Elizabeth's nine-month ordeal.

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