Former preacher gets life in Smart abduction

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY -- Elizabeth Smart finally got her chance Wednesday to confront the street preacher convicted of holding her captive and raping her for months when she was just 14. Now 23, she stood tall in the courtroom -- stoic, with an even voice and a strength Brian David Mitchell clearly lacked.

Mitchell, frail and skinny with a long, peppery white beard, sang hymns softly and closed his hollow eyes, just as he did throughout his trial, just as he would moments later as the judge gave him two life sentences without parole. That did not stop Smart from looking right at him and coolly speaking her piece.

It took her about 30 seconds.

"I don't have very much to say to you. I know exactly what you did," said Smart, wearing a houndstooth checked skirt, an ivory jacket and pearls. "I know that you know that what you did was wrong. You did it with full knowledge ... but I have a wonderful life now and no matter what you do, you will never affect me again."

Mitchell's sentencing closed a major legal chapter in the ordeal that stalled for years after he was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court. A federal jury in December unanimously convicted the 57-year-old of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

Smart was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom by knifepoint in the early hours of June 5, 2002.

The massive search to find her riveted the nation, as did her recovery while walking with her captor on a suburban Salt Lake City-area street March 12, 2003.

Mitchell took Smart to California for five of the months she was held captive.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said Mitchell deserved a life sentence because the facts of the case were "unusually heinous and degrading."

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