Mitchell guilty of Elizabeth Smart kidnapping

Dec. 10, 2010 at 5:17 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Brian David Mitchell was convicted Friday in Utah of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart, then 14, in 2002 and holding her for months as a second wife.

Jurors deliberated for 5 hours, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The trial in U.S. District Court concluded Thursday. Mitchell, 57, whose lawyers argued he was insane when he abducted Smart, sang a hymn as the verdict was read.

Smart was taken from the bedroom of her family's home in Salt Lake City by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Because Mitchell and Barzee took Smart to California before they were arrested in Sandy, Utah, Mitchell was charged with interstate transportation of a kidnapping victim as well as the abduction.

After the verdict, Smart, now 23, told reporters she was "thrilled," the Salt Lake City Deseret News reported. She said she plans to return to her Mormon mission in France, which was interrupted by the trial.

"Today is a wonderful day," Smart said, adding she was "thrilled" with the verdict and the opportunity to give hope to other victims.

"I hope that not only was this an example that justice can be served in America, but it is possible to move on after something terrible," she said.

Much of the evidence involved Mitchell's mental condition. Defense witnesses said he was insane, but prosecution witnesses, many of them on the staff of Utah State Hospital, described him as a manipulator who turned his apparent religious mania on and off.

Mitchell is scheduled to be sentenced in May. He faces a life sentence.

The trial was delayed for years by questions about whether Mitchell and Barzee were mentally competent.

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