Smart kidnapping trial moving into 3rd week

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Opening week testimony in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case painted her alleged abductor as a smart, calculating man who used religion as a ruse to manipulate others and justify his actions – including kidnapping her in 2002.The trial of Brian David Mitchell on charges of kidnapping and transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity is set to resume Monday in U.S. District Court after a break for the Veteran’s Day holiday.Mitchell’s attorneys have not disputed the facts of the abduction but in opening statements said it’s wrong to conclude he carefully planned the kidnapping. They are expected to try to persuade jurors that Mitchell is mentally ill.If convicted the 57-year-old former street preacher could spend the rest of his life in prison.Smart was 14 when she was taken from her home at knifepoint and held in captivity for nine months. She was recovered in March 2003, after being spotted on a suburban Salt Lake City street with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, who is expected to testify before the trial concludes next month.Prosecutors are expected to call a parade of law enforcement officers, mental health experts and former friends, co-workers and church members as they try to build on their case after a blockbuster opening.Over Smart’s three days of testimony last week, Smart, now 23, said Mitchell took her to a mountainside camp, forced her into a polygamous marriage and raped her almost daily. She said she was forced to drink alcohol, use drugs, smoke cigarettes and look at pornography – vices Mitchell claimed she must experience and “sink below” so that she could spiritually rise above them.Smart said she was kept tethered on a metal cable for about six weeks by Mitchell, who threatened every day to kill her, her family or anyone who helped her if she ever tried to escape.Mitchell also proclaimed he was a religious prophet who would usher in the second-coming of Jesus Christ, she said. Mitchell claimed he been called on to steer the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – from which he is excommunicated – back on to the correct path, including restoring polygamy, which the church abandoned in the 1890s.”He said that the LDS Church was the true church, but they were also the most wicked church because they had the most truth and knowledge and that they went against it,” said Smart, who returned from a Mormon church mission in France to testify at the trial.Smart said she never believed there was anything sincere about Mitchell’s religious beliefs, his manuscript “The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah,” or claims that he was directed by God.Smart said she only observed Mitchell use religion to get things for himself or to manipulate others, including trying to get close to a San Diego-area Mormon family in an attempt to kidnap their daughter and take her as another wife.”He was his number one priority, followed by sex, drugs and alcohol, but he used religion in all of those aspects to justify everything,” she told jurors.Defense attorneys plan to mount an insanity defense and contend that Mitchell suffers from worsening mental illness. In a hearing last year, defense attorney Robert Steele said Mitchell is unable to participate in his own defense.In a parallel state case, Mitchell was diagnosed with a rare delusional disorder and deemed incompetent for trial.U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball, however, ruled that Mitchell was competent for the federal proceedings.Prosecutors contend Mitchell is faking psychiatric symptoms. He has been removed from the courtroom each day of the trial for disrupting the proceedings by singing hymns. He watches the trial on closed-circuit television from a holding cell.They contend proof of Mitchell’s calculations can be found in his efforts to keep Smart hidden after the abduction.Smart was never left alone and mostly restricted to camp. When in public, Smart was disguised in religious robes, a headscarf and veil, or made to wear a wig and sunglasses. Mitchell used false names and once said Smart should identify herself as Augustine Marshall, his daughter, if she were ever questioned by police.During her testimony, Smart said Mitchell had acknowledged that he had plotted her kidnapping for months after meeting her family in the fall of 2001 and that he knew he would be arrested and punished if caught.”And he said that he would be released and would be killed and lie dead in the street for three days and then he would be resurrected and he would go on to fight the Anti-Christ,” she testified.Prosecutors also questioned other witnesses, including the Salt Lake City homicide detective who questioned Mitchell about Smart’s identity in a downtown library but took no action after Mitchell refused to remove a veil across the teen’s face.Smart’s mother also testified to the horror of being awakened by another daughter on the night of the kidnapping, and finding a hole cut into a screen and her child missing.

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