Jury Reaches Verdict in Elizabeth Smart Case

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal jury has reached a quick verdict
in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, eight years after she was
snatched from her bedroom and held for nine months by a nomadic
street preacher.

The jury started deliberating just after 5:30 p.m. Thursday and
court officials announced jurors had reached a verdict just after
10:30 a.m. Friday. The verdict will be read shortly in U.S.
District Court in Salt Lake City.

The facts of the case are undisputed: Even attorneys for Brian
David Mitchell say there's no question he kidnapped Smart and raped
her almost daily until she was found months later, walking a
suburban street with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife.

But defense attorney Robert Steele says Mitchell's actions were
colored by long-standing delusional beliefs. He told jurors
Thursday that they should find Mitchell not guilty by reason of
insanity and send him to a prison mental hospital.

Jurors also could convict Mitchell of the crime or find him not
guilty. They got the case Thursday and deliberated for about three
hours before adjourning for the night.

The Smart family will be at the courthouse to hear the verdict.

During the trial, Mitchell was removed daily from the courtroom
for singing hymns and disrupting proceedings. Last week, he had a
seizure in the holding room where he watches the trial on
television. He spent several hours at a hospital before being
returned to a jail.

Prosecutors say the 57-year-old is faking mental illness to
avoid prosecution.

"He's a predatory chameleon with the cunning to adapt his
behavior to serve his needs and desires at any given moment,"
Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana Hagen said during an 80-minute
closing argument.

Hagen told jurors that Mitchell acted deliberately when he took
Smart from her home at knifepoint in the middle of the night and
threatened her life if she cried out for help. Mitchell was also
deliberate when he forced Smart into a polygamous marriage, raped
her daily and held her captive for nine months, hiding her behind
long robes, a head scarf and veil, and a religious name.

"He stripped her of her clothes, her identity and her
innocence," Hagen said.

Hagen said Mitchell didn't eschew mainstream society and live on
the streets in the mid-1990s because of either a command from God
or because a mental illness, but because he wanted to avoid work,
child support payments and income taxes.

He chose when to follow his so-called revelations from God,
Hagen said.

"If he chose those ideas then he can certainly choose to
conform his conduct to the demands of the law," she said. "He can
certainly choose not to rip a child away from her home and family,
to rape and abuse her, to keep her bound like an animal, to rob her
of her identity, her dignity and her childhood."

Steele disputed that Mitchell could shape his behavior to
conform, since he had the delusional belief that he was above
everyone else. It was a delusion that drove him to break laws
starting at age 16, when he was convicted of exposing himself to an
8-year-old girl.

"It's easy to say that he's just making it up," Steele said
during his hourlong closing argument. "But this is sustained, a
long-term drive. He thinks he is special. This is not an overnight

Outside the courthouse Steele said Mitchell was waiting for the
verdict in the holding cell where he watches court proceedings each

"He's pretty indifferent to what is going on," Steele said.

Now 23, Smart has testified that she was forced into a
polygamous marriage with Mitchell after the abduction, held
prisoner on a tether and forced to endure nearly daily rapes. She
also said Mitchell forced her to wear hand-sewn, religious-looking
robes, to use drugs and alcohol, view pornography and to go to
California against her will.

Smart has attended the trial, taking a break from serving a
religious mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints in Paris.

Mitchell's estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, pleaded guilty to
Smart's kidnapping last year and is serving 15 years in federal

Associated Press reporter Josh Loftin contributed to this report
from Salt Lake City.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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