News24

Elizabeth Smart kidnapper convicted

2010-12-11 12:15

Salt Lake City - A homeless street preacher was found guilty on Friday of the 2002 kidnapping of a Utah girl who was abducted from her bed in the middle of the night and endured a harrowing, nine-month ordeal in captivity.

A US federal court jury in Salt Lake City convicted Brian David Mitchell, 57, on two counts: kidnapping and unlawful transportation of minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity.

The self-styled prophet, who had been ejected from court daily for disrupting the trial, loudly sang the hymn, "He Died, the Great Redeemer Died" in the packed courtroom as the verdicts were read.

ELizabeth Smart, who was 14 at the time of the abduction and is now 23, testified in graphic detail about her abduction at knife-point, rape and captivity. She exchanged smiles with her mother, Lois, in the front row of the courtroom gallery.

Mitchell's step-daughter, Rebecca Woodridge, sobbed.

Prosecutors told jurors during the six-week trial that Mitchell kidnapped Smart from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002, with the intent of forcing her to live as his bride.

Defence lawyers told the seven-man, five-woman jury that Mitchell was under the delusion he was acting on a commandment from God and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mitchell faces a maximum punishment of life in prison when he is sentenced on May 25.

"The beginning and end of this story is attributable to a woman with extraordinary courage and extraordinary determination, and that woman is Elizabeth Smart," US Attorney Carlie Christensen said outside the courthouse.

Christensen added, "She is a remarkable young woman."