Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper gets life in prison

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2011 6:13 PM
Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper gets life in prison

By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - The homeless street preacher convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison after Smart told him that he would be held responsible for his actions "in this life or the next."

Smart, who is now 23, addressed Brian David Mitchell before he was sentenced for the June 5, 2002 abduction, a crime that captivated much of America. He was convicted in December.

"I know exactly what you did and I know you know what you did was wrong, and you did it with full knowledge," Smart said during brief remarks in federal court in Salt Lake City.

"You took away nine months of my life that can never be replaced," she said. "In this life or the next, you will be held responsible ... I hope you're ready for that when the time comes."

Her father, Ed Smart, told Mitchell that he had put Elizabeth through "nine months of psychological hell."

Mitchell was found guilty by a federal court jury of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity.

His estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, was sentenced in May 2010 to a 15-year prison term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping.

Smart was 14 when Mitchell took her at knifepoint from her upscale Salt Lake City home. She told the court during the self-styled prophet's six-week trial of her terrifying abduction in the middle of the night from the bed she shared with her sister.

In dramatic testimony, Smart said Mitchell woke her up with a knife to her throat and marched her into the foothills above Salt Lake City, where he pronounced her his wife, then raped her in a make-shift encampment.

She described her time as Mitchell's captive as "nine months of hell" in which she was at first kept chained by the ankle to a tree and raped nearly every day, often repeatedly, and forced to look at pornography and drink alcohol.

Smart was rescued on March 12, 2003, after passersby spotted her walking with Mitchell and Barzee, on a street in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Greg McCune)