SALT LAKE CITY — A federal jury in Salt Lake City on Friday convicted a self-proclaimed prophet and street preacher of kidnapping and repeatedly raping then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, rejecting arguments by the defense that Brian David Mitchell was insane at the time of the crimes.
Mitchell, 57, could face up to life in prison. He and his then-lover, Wanda Barzee, took Smart from her bedroom in her Salt Lake City home one night in 2002 and brought her to a remote mountain camp, where she was shackled and repeatedly raped by Mitchell.
The abduction made national news and Smart — petite, blond and a member of the Mormon Church — became a symbol of stolen innocence.
She was rescued nine months later when she was seen with Mitchell and Barzee on a street in Salt Lake City.
Now 23, Smart testified for three days about her life in captivity. Barzee, who pleaded guilty last year and is serving a 15-year prison sentence, also testified for the prosecution.
Much of the trial was taken up by dueling testimony from forensic psychiatrists on whether Mitchell, who claimed that God directed him to take Smart and rape her, was so mentally disturbed that he should not be sent to prison for his crimes. Even his defense attorney, Robert Steele, acknowledged to the jury that Mitchell "is not a good person."
It took the jury just five hours to convict Mitchell, who could face up to life in prison on each count when he is sentenced on May 25. However, a judge also could impose an unspecified, lesser sentence, prosecutors said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.