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No appeal set in Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY -- A former street preacher sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 kidnapping and rape of Elizabeth Smart will not appeal his conviction, concluding a case that riveted the nation and focused attention on child abduction.

Lawyers for Brian David Mitchell, 57, could not elaborate on his decision, Robert Steele, Mitchell's federal public defender, told The Associated Press on Monday, the deadline for filing an appeal.

Steele has maintained that Mitchell, who disrupted daily court proceedings with hymn singing, is incompetent and could not participate in his own defense. Jurors rejected the insanity defense, saying that he knew he was breaking the law.

Elizabeth Smart said justice had been served.

"It's nice to see the defense do the right thing for a change," she said Monday.

Her father, Ed Smart, said Mitchell's decision not to appeal brings finality to the entire case.

"I'm grateful that he's not appealing," Smart said. "We've felt pretty good since the trial that things were going to come out this way. It's good to now be at this point where things are what they are and it's not going to be fought."

Utah's U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said in a statement that the agency is also pleased with the decision. She said the decision brings "finality and closure for Elizabeth and her family."

A federal jury in December unanimously convicted Mitchell on one count each of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of illegal sex. Mitchell was sentenced in May to two life sentences.

Woodridge, who has visited Mitchell in jail almost weekly, said he remains steadfast in his belief that he did nothing wrong by taking Smart because he was acting on a command from God.

It was not clear when Mitchell would be moved to a federal prison.

The decision against an appeal brings to a close a nine-year saga.

On June 5, 2002, Smart, then 14 years old, was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home. The disappearance led to a massive search across Utah for the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl.

Smart, now 23, testified during the five-week trial, calling her kidnapping "nine months of hell."

Smart said that within hours of the kidnapping she was forced into a polygamous marriage with Mitchell and raped. She said she endured daily rapes, lived homeless and was forced to use drugs and alcohol.

Mitchell, who outlined his religious beliefs in a rambling 27-page manifesto he called "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah," took Smart to California for five months.

Held captive for a total of nine months -- for a while in the hills above her family's home -- Smart was found in March 2003 after motorists spotted her walking with her captor on a suburban Salt Lake City street.

At sentencing, Smart told Mitchell that despite his horrific acts, her life was now "wonderful" and that he could never hurt her again.

Last week, ABC News announced it has hired Smart to work as network commentator on child abduction and missing persons cases. She's also a music student at Brigham Young University and expected to graduate next year.


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