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.FULL STORY
A federal jury has found a homeless street preacher guilty of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart in 2002 and transporting the 14-year-old girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.
Jurors deliberated for about five hours before announcing the verdict in the case of Brian David Mitchell, 57, court officials said.
Smart, now 23, was the prosecution's star witness. She spent three days on the witness stand after traveling to Utah from Paris, France, where she is on a mission with the Mormon church. Afterwards, she sat with her parents in the front row of the courtroom, watching the trial.
The jury resumed deliberations Friday in the trial of Brian David Mitchell, accused of kidnapping 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002, a court spokesman said.
The jurors - who began deliberating Thursday - will decide whether Mitchell, 57, was legally insane when he snatched Smart at knifepoint from her bedroom on June 5, 2002.
Smart testified at the monthlong trial that he led her to a makeshift camp in the canyons above her home, "sealed" her as his spiritual plural wife and raped her.
U.S. District Dale Kimball instructed jurors that in order to acquit Mitchell under the insanity defense, they must determine he was mentally ill and that his illness was so severe it kept him from knowing right from wrong.
Elizabeth Smart trial
The jury will resume deliberations Friday morning in the trial of Brian David Mitchell, above at left, a homeless street preacher accused of kidnapping 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002.
After three hours of deliberation Thursday night, the Salt Lake City, Utah, jury will return at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday.
The jurors will decide whether Mitchell, 57, was legally insane when he snatched Smart at knifepoint from her bedroom on June 5, 2002. Smart testified at the monthlong trial that he led her to a makeshift camp in the canyons above her home, "sealed" her as his spiritual plural wife and raped her.
What do Hustler founder Larry Flynt and Black Panther Bobby Seale have in common with Brian Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping Utah teen Elizabeth Smart?
All three have been disruptive defendants at their criminal trials, either through sartorial choices (diapers), Christmas hymns ("O Holy Night") or by calling the judge names ("pig").
Distracting defendants pose a tough challenge for judges, who are tasked with maintaining order in the court and preserving a defendant's fair trial rights, even when those interests seem to conflict.
"A judge won’t put up with any kinds of shenanigans or behavior - intentional or unintentional - that might have the effect of swaying the jury one way or another. He wants the jurors focused on the evidence and not the other things," said Paul Lisnek, a trial consultant who has worked on the cases of O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector and Heidi Fleiss.
"But, the judge is also always thinking about getting overturned on appeal," he added. "An appellate court may say, 'Why didn’t you control your courtroom?' "
The federal trial of Brian David Mitchell, charged in connection with the 2002 kidnapping of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart, was halted Tuesday after Mitchell suffered a medical problem in court, according to CNN affiliate KSTU.
The station posted a picture on its website of Mitchell with an oxygen mask on, sitting on a stretcher as he was being loaded into an ambulance.
Mitchell, as usual, began singing when he was led into the courtroom Tuesday - "O Holy Night," KSTU reported. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball began the proceedings by raising an issue in a note sent from jurors.
As Kimball asked for jurors to be brought in, Mitchell began to wail and dropped to the floor, KSTU said.
Maybe Elizabeth Smart wouldn't have spent "nine months in hell" if her mother hadn't burned the potatoes.
Maybe she wouldn't have been stolen in the night if she and her father had closed the kitchen window and set the alarm as they made their nightly rounds after family prayers.
And maybe her ordeal wouldn't have lasted so long if somebody - anybody - had just spoken up after seeing a veiled teenager who didn't seem to have a will of her own.
There are so many maybes in Elizabeth Smart's story.
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday in the federal kidnapping trial of the self-professed prophet accused of kidnapping Utah teen Elizabeth Smart.
Ten witnesses testified during the government’s case, including Smart, 23, who testified for three days about the ordeal. Brian David Mitchell faces life in prison if he is convicted of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes.
Smart was 14 when she was taken at knifepoint from her bed early on June 5, 2002. She testified that she was led to a primitive mountainside camp, “sealed” in marriage to her captor, raped and tethered between two trees “like an animal.”
She was freed on March 12, 2003, as she, Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, returned from a winter trip to California.
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Testifying in the trial of her alleged kidnapper, Elizabeth Smart recounted before jurors Tuesday an encounter with a Salt Lake City detective that could have brought her home months earlier.
The homicide detective encountered Smart and her alleged abductor, Brian David Mitchell, along with Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, at the city library in the fall of 2002, several months after she was snatched at knifepoint from her family's home in June, she testified Tuesday.
The three had gone to the library to research California and San Diego, Smart said. Mitchell was already considering moving her there, and the encounter with police spurred him to do so.
Looking "like a scared rabbit," Elizabeth Smart's younger sister awakened her parents early in the morning of June 5, 2002, with alarming news.
"Elizabeth is gone," 9-year-old Mary Katherine said, according to testimony Monday in the federal kidnapping trial of Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of abducting Smart eight years ago.
Lois Smart, the girls' mother, was the first witness to testify at the trial. She spent less than an hour on the witness stand, recalling how the family hired Mitchell to do odd jobs.
Smart trial opens - Opening statements in the trial of the accused mastermind in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart are expected Thursday. It's been eight years since the Utah teen disappeared from her Salt Lake City bedroom in a crime that shocked the nation.
In 2005, a judge found Brian David Mitchell incompetent to stand trial on state charges, leaving him in custody at a psychiatric hospital. The state case was put on hold when federal authorties stepped in.
Mitchell, 57, is facing federal charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for improper purposes. Smart, now 22, has talked about her experience while she was held. She was found less than a year after her capture walking in an area near Salt Lake City wearing a wig and sunglasses. Smart is on the list of witnesses who are scheduled to testify.