Man who abducted Elizabeth Smart sentenced to life in prison
Elizabeth Smart told reporters Wednesday that she "couldn’t be happier" with the sentencing.
May 25th, 2011
06:04 PM ET

Man who abducted Elizabeth Smart sentenced to life in prison

A homeless street preacher who abducted, raped and kept a 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart captive for nine months was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

Brian David Mitchell was found guilty in December of kidnapping Smart from her Utah home in 2002 and transporting her across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity. Jurors rejected the insanity defense mounted by his lawyers.

After Mitchell was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, Smart told reporters that she was "thrilled with the results that came out today."

"The life sentence – I couldn’t be happier,” she said outside the court building.

Smart, now 23, said she thanks everyone who ever prayed for her or made an effort to bring her home.

"As I said during court, and I'll say it again now, I absolutely 100% believe that Brian David Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing when he kidnapped me, and all the events that followed. ... Today is the ending of a very long chapter, and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me," she said.

Police stopped Smart, Mitchell and Mitchell's wife on March 12, 2003, after a tipster spotted them outside a Walmart in Sandy, Utah, just a few miles from Smart's home.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Elizabeth Smart • Justice
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. Karen

    What is a kidnaper?

    May 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joe800

    ...I'd be better if he was released after Ms. Smart's father waiting period for the nice glock .40 cal. was over....

    May 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Vikka37

    Did it ever occur to you, Bill, that although the actual ordeal is over for Elizabeth and her family they will live with the terror of memories for the rest of their lives? The punishment fits the crime. He should live behind bars for the rest of his life.......even if it is to keep him from doing it to another young girl.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Yeah, and now WE are punished. Who do you think is fitting the bill for his life in prison? He commits a crime and ultimately we end up paying the price either through increased taxes to build more space or by letting out other criminals on parole.

      What is prison these days? Some claim it's a place to rehab criminals for their release back into society. So then where is the punishment for this guy? Oh sure, Bubba will probably make him do things he never wanted to do, but at the end of the day he's got a roof over his head, a bed, clothing and 3-square meals a day. Sounds like our homeless should get that kind of treatment and these animals should get a real form of punishment for their crimes.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    I don't think people who commit serious crimes such as this go into the situation planning out what they should do and what the potential sentence could be for each item in their plan. That seems to be what Bill and others are suggesting,

    May 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. What??

    Wait a minute – he should be rewarded for NOT killing her, instead of punishment for the torture and injury he subjected her to? At least now he can never, ever hurt another child again. You need some serious psychological help.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Here is more coverage from local SLC media on Elizabeth Smart kidnapper's sentencing Life In Prison,0,6270402.story

    May 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dustin

    Has anyone here ever even been to prison? 1 year in that place will mess you up for life!

    May 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • rachbell

      This guy is already messed up. He needs to be kept away from the rest of us.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin 2 (Too)

      Perfect punishment....... Make him born again on some world with weird cults, bloodthirsty corrupt world leaders, lots of diseases so you can't even enjoy schmexual activities, oh and sports that glorify those diseases, umm everyone is trying to steal your money in one way or another, hedonism is promoted and made illegal at the same time..... then have him born in a family that breeds him to not only be weak and nice, yet exposes him to hermaph movies, and every other weird schmexual thing on earth. Then everyone in his life will treat him like dirt and abuse him, so he grows up with a skewed sense of reality and this will make him awkward in social situations but that's fine cuz we'll give him some really good drugs (also illegal) but the cops will blame only him even though he was being groomed to be a monster from day one.... best punishment ever.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morgan Freeman

      @Dustin2: Your description of prison world sounds eerily similar to this planet. What could we all have done to deserve such a punishment?

      May 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. survivor

    i'm not a proponent of capital punishment, but i think he got what he deserved, if not less than he deserved. he's a sick sick b@stard. this young woman endured 9 months of torture. TORTURE.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm proud of Elizabeth, maybe this will send a message to those would be or all rapist, life. Let Elizabeth's case be an attorney's dream to give someone life if the justice system won't change the laws.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      I'm incredibly proud of her. She has handled this like I would never have imagined. She maintains her dignity, class, and faith, and displays incredible acceptance of the year robbed from her childhood and what was done to her. If only so many victims could hang their head so high and not have their self-esteem forever spiraling down.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. danny

    i blame the victim. 2miles from her house? uh... run?

    May 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      Wow. There are no words.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You are an idiot. You have no idea the psychological state this girl was in 9 months later. Anyone that would sympathize against the victim is just an ass wanting to make a smart ass post or else just a disgrace for a human.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • hunnciupp

      Just a while ago there was a story of a girl who was kidnapped and had the sense about her to do what she needed to do to escape. She was 15...not much older than Elizabeth was...and knew she should break free from a vehicle and start screaming for help. I don't sympathize much for Elizabeth. She had plenty of opportunity to do the right thing to protect herself. I'm glad she wasn't killed, and I'm sorry she was abused like she said she was...but seriously, she could have done something about it.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hjs3

    Why all the debate? Don't assume that this man will actually survive in prison for his heinous acts either....
    Rapists and child molesters are a lot low on the feeding chain where he's going....

    May 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. begalvis

    great, now we get to support another low life for the rest of his life... and what more, his living conditions will increase 10 fold in prison, even if he is labeled as a child molester. He will be attacked and then spend 23 hours a day in a private cell watching TV and reading and breathing on the taxpayers' dime. What a travesty.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      That's actually a huge myth about prison life. Also, it costs more to kill someone than to house them in prison forever [specifically because of the appeals process on death row].

      May 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conmanco

      You're right it does cost more for a death penalty than to keep someone in life confinement, but that argument can be cancelled out by the fact that we have the largest prison system in the world. The FDF approves a 150 billion dollar budget for the federal prison systems every year. So really, it doesn't matter if the death penalty costs more or not because we have SO many inmates in our system that yes, we are paying for their luxuries.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Richard Hamilton

    nine MONTHS.....try years
    The guy would have already been long dead in MY court.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kayaker247

    glad he's going away for life! hopefully he will meet additional "justice" in prison!

    May 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Deacon Magruder

    If she was your sister, or your daughter, you know you'd want to kill him yourself. Don't lie.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • hunnciupp

      If she were my daughter I'd turn myself in for child negligence for not teaching my child how to protect herself.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
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