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Smart calls former captor 'evil, wicked, manipulative'

SALT LAKE CITY — Taking the stand for the first time since she was snatched from her bedroom in 2002, Elizabeth Smart testified Thursday that her captor raped her repeatedly, kept her tied with a cable around her leg and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.

Asked by a prosecutor to describe Brian David Mitchell, the self-described prophet accused of holding her captive for nine months, Smart replied: "Evil, wicked, manipulative, stinky, slimy, greedy, selfish, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God."

Smart, now a 21-year-old college student, gave her horrifying account in federal court as part of a proceeding over whether Mitchell is mentally competent to stand trial.

The 55-year-old one-time street preacher has been behind bars since 2003 — mostly in a state mental hospital — but has yet to stand trial. Twice he has been ruled mentally incompetent in state court, and he has often demonstrated bizarre behavior, including incessantly singing hymns in the courtroom and once yelling at a judge to repent.

Smart testified that within hours of her 2002 kidnapping at knifepoint, she was led away to a secluded mountain campsite and in a short ceremony became the polygamous "wife" of the older man.

"After that he proceeded to rape me," Smart said, sharing for the first time publicly her account of the ordeal.

She testified that in the days immediately following the kidnapping, Mitchell held her captive with the help of a 10-foot cable bolted to her leg and tethered to a line stretched between two trees. She said Mitchell threatened to kill her if she yelled or tried to get away.

On the stand for nearly two hours, Smart was poised, her voice never wavering. She did not come face-to-face with her alleged tormenter. Mitchell was removed from the courtroom for disruptive behavior — singing hymns — before Smart arrived, and he watched the proceedings from a holding cell.

Smart was rescued in March 2003 after a motorist saw her walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.

Mitchell is charged in state court with kidnapping and sexual assault. His lawyers maintain he is incompetent.

Smart testified that never in the nine months Mitchell held her captive did he appear confused or out of control: "He was a very capable, intelligent human being."

Smart calls former captor 'evil, wicked, manipulative' 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 11:47pm]

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