SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart remembers not being able to make out the threat, only the feel of a cold knife at her neck.
As the then-14-year-old lay in bed beside her baby sister, the man said: "Don't make a sound. Get out of bed and come with me, or I will kill you and your family." She was his hostage, he told her.
"I was shocked. I thought I was having a nightmare. It was just indescribable fear," Smart, now 23, told jurors Monday on the first day of testimony in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping her in June 2002.
That night, they fled up the hills above her home, with Smart in her red pajamas and tennis shoes, and the knife to her back.
Her younger sister — a baby blanket wrapped around her head and neck — rushed to their mother, telling of the kidnapping.
"It was utter terror," their mother, Lois Smart, testified earlier Monday. "It was the worst feeling, knowing that I didn't know where my child was. I was helpless."
Nine months later, motorists spotted Elizabeth Smart walking in a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell.
His attorneys did not dispute the facts of the abduction. But during opening statements, they said the prosecution's allegation that he was a calculating person who planned the kidnapping was wrong.
Known as a homeless street preacher named "Immanuel," Mitchell was influenced by a worsening mental illness and religious beliefs that made him think he was doing what God wanted, his attorneys said.
Mitchell, who has a long graying beard to the middle of his chest and hair to the middle of his back, was again removed from the courtroom Monday for singing hymns, so he's watching and listening from a holding cell.