Monday 23 October 2017

Life for preacher in Smart kidnapping and rape trial

Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City

Elizabeth Smart outside court in Salt Lake City last December. Right: Brian David Mitchell is led into court for sentencing yesterday.

A KIDNAP victim who was raped and abused over a period of nine months watched yesterday as a federal judge ordered a street preacher to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Elizabeth Smart watched impassively as the sentencing of Brian David Mitchell closed the legal element of a heartbreaking ordeal, the trial had been delayed for years after Mitchell was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court.

Yesterday, Ms Smart said in court: "I know that you know what you did is wrong," as Mitchell sang quietly in the courtroom. "You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned."

US District Judge Dale Kimball handed down two life sentences for Mitchell at the hearing in Salt Lake City. A jury earlier unanimously convicted the 57-year-old Mitchell in December of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

Ms Smart was 14 when she was snatched from the bedroom of her family home in Salt Lake City.

Now 23, she testified in excruciating detail about waking up in the early hours of June 5, 2002, to the feel of a cold, jagged knife at her throat and being whisked away by Mitchell to his camp in the foothills near the family home.

Within hours of the kidnapping, she testified, she was stripped of her pyjamas, draped in white, religious robes and forced into a polygamous marriage.

She was subjected to near-daily rapes while being forced to use alcohol and drugs.

At Mitchell's trial, Ms Smart recalled being forced to live homeless, dress in disguises and lie about her identity if ever approached by police.

Ms Smart testified that she believed Mitchell was driven by his desire for sex, drugs and alcohol, not by any sincere religious beliefs.

Irish Independent

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