SALT LAKE CITY — In addition to being a child rapist, liar and manipulator, Brian David Mitchell is a hypocrite, according to Elizabeth Smart.
Even though Mitchell may have called himself a prophet, called himself Immanuel and preached religion, he was not a man of God, she said.
"Everything he did to me and my family is something I know God would never tell someone to do. I know God would never tell someone to go kidnap a young girl from her sister's bed," Smart testified Wednesday. "He would never tell you to rape her, to sexually abuse her. I know God loves me. … I know we have free agency, for us to choose. I never had free agency for those nine months. I know God would never do something like that."
That response by Smart came near the end of her three days on the witness stand, and was delivered with confidence, conviction and a little more passionately than other parts of her testimony Wednesday.
After nearly nine hours of testimony and cross-examination spanning three days, Smart was able to step down from the witness stand Wednesday.
On her final day testifying, Smart discussed much less about the sexual abuse she incurred while being held captive for nine months and more about the way Mitchell manipulated people, the way he bragged when he felt he had succeeded in manipulating people, and how he was a very careful planner who knew what he was doing.
Mitchell would try to convince Smart to do what he wanted by telling her God had given him a revelation that she should do certain things, and by giving her blessings. But Smart said the priesthood blessings she had received in the LDS Church prior to being kidnapped were never like Mitchell's.
"He always told me God had something to tell me, like clean up around the camp, to be there sexually for him," she testified. "The blessings I had always received were blessings of comfort, reassurance that I have my choices and I can make the right choices, compared to the blessings the defendant tried to give me. He told me what to do. He never said I had my agency to choose. It was all very dictative."
Mitchell's primary concern over the nine months Smart was kidnapped wasn't his religion, but rather "sex and alcohol," she testified.
"Did he ever put his faith before his own well-being?" assistant U.S. attorney Felice Viti asked.
"No," Smart said with conviction.
"Did he show concern for you?" Viti asked.
"No," she replied.
When asked what Mitchell was like when he was drunk, she said, "I think his behavior was similar to when he was sober only it would intensify a bit. He was crude and vulgar and self-serving. He was his No. 1 priority for sex, drugs and alcohol, but he used religion in all those aspects to justify everything."
When asked about sexual abuse, Smart said Mitchell at one point told her, "I would become accustomed and learn to love it."
During her 30 minute cross-examination, Smart was noticeably more defiant when questioned by defense attorney Robert Steele. She was not hostile or rude, but answered Steele with an attitude that she was not going to let anyone dispute her story of what happened to her.
The defense did not question Smart about any of the horrific abuses she incurred, instead focusing most of their questions about what Mitchell said about religion, his views on lymphology, and what might have been going through his head when he planned his other kidnapping attempts.
Steele questioned Smart about whether Mitchell knew he would be caught when they returned to Utah from California. One of Mitchell's reported beliefs was that he would be caught upon returning to Utah and become a martyr.
But Smart said Mitchell only talked about being caught 10 to 15 years later. She noted how when hitchhiking back to Salt Lake, Mitchell thought the best way to go undetected was to make several short trips between small cities.
"He didn't just stand on the side of the road with a sign that said 'Salt Lake,' " she said. "There were smaller destinations between California and Utah."
When Steele asked if it was true that Mitchell said at one point that God would protect him from being caught, Smart confirmed he did say that.
"I also recall him saying he understood what would happen if he got caught," Smart said.
"He understood it was against the law?" Steele asked.
"Yes, he was very clear," she said.
Near the end of his cross-examination, Steele discussed when Smart was abducted from her bed, whether an actual threat to kill her was made or if it was just implied.
"Well, I would have no other idea how to interpret a knife at my neck," Smart said.
Smart admitted it's possible there may have been other times Mitchell said he didn't want to have to kill her or her family.
Mitchell's manipulation of a Salt Lake police detective at the old Salt Lake Library after Smart was kidnapped and still missing, was brought up again in court Wednesday. Responding to a call of a possible Smart sighting, detective Jon Richey responded to the library to find a man and two women dressed in robes. The women were wearing veils, covering everything on their faces but their eyes.
The man refused to let the officer look under the women's veils, saying it was strictly forbidden in their religion. The officer left without lifting the girl's veil, only to learn months later that it was in fact Smart.
"It was traumatic. It was absolutely traumatizing to think I could have ended the investigation in the fall of 2002. I beat myself up over that. I have to live with that," Richey said outside the federal courthouse Wednesday.
Richey earlier testified about how calm, collected and convincing Mitchell was in fooling the veteran officer.
A person at the library had called police saying he believed the young girl was Elizabeth Smart because of her eyes. Richey, however, did not see the same thing despite making "direct eye contact," and believed the possibility of it being Smart based on that information "was a long shot."
Neither Barzee nor Smart spoke to Richey when he arrived at the library. Mitchell, who was standing a short distance away, "briskly" walked toward the women when he saw the officer, "like there was a problem," Richey said.
Mitchell told Richey they were from out of town and were in Salt Lake for the young girl's schooling. He asked if he could look under the younger woman's veil.
"I told him it was important to me to thoroughly investigate the complaint," Richey testified. "He was absolutely adamant it would not take place — it was a religious edict and there would be religious consequences for her."
Mitchell was very unyielding, non-hesitant and assertive in his replies, Richey said. He was also calm, and never showed signs of being nervous, even when Richey pressed him harder and asked several different questions, several different times in different ways.
"I simply upped the pressure one notch at a time," he said.
But Mitchell never cracked. All that the officer received were matter-of-fact answers.
At that point, because of a lack of evidence, Richey said he felt he did not have a constitutional right to simply force her veil off. Because Mitchell did not crack under pressure, and partly because the young girl he was questioning was tall and appeared to be 18 years old and not 14, Richey felt he could not violate the trio's rights.
"Do I physically hold her down and remove her veil and potentially violate someone's serious religious edict?" Richey said was the thought that went through his mind. "I left that library thinking it was not Elizabeth Smart. I left thinking I made the right decision."
Richey said he has gone over that confrontation many times in his head since, trying to figure out if there was anything he could have done differently.
"It has been difficult for me," he said, adding, "There's nothing I would have done differently."
Richey left the trio after about half an hour. He admitted in court that he did not recall asking Mitchell directly if the young girl was Elizabeth Smart, or even what religion they belonged to. In fact, religion was hardly a topic talked about at all, he said.
Smart testified Tuesday that she was mad at herself afterward for not speaking up that day. "I felt like hope was walking out the door," she said of the moment the officer left. "I was mad at myself that I didn't say anything."
In other testimony Wednesday, prosecutors again tried to show to the jury that Mitchell was aware that kidnapping Smart and holding her hostage was wrong.
In the summer of 2002, after Smart was kidnapped, Deseret News employee Heidi Perry testified that she encountered Mitchell in the lobby of the old Deseret News building at 30 E. 100 South.
Perry had just put up a large poster with a picture of Smart on it in the front window. At the top of the poster in bold letters was the word, "Kidnapped" with a description of the missing 14-year-old girl near the bottom.
Mitchell, dressed in his robes, was attempting to tear down the poster when she confronted him.
"I was upset. I said, 'You can't take that poster down,' " Perry testified. "He told me she'd been found and the poster didn't need to be up."
When Perry told him that Smart was still missing, Mitchell told her that he had read in the other paper that she was found.
Prosecutors pointed out to the jury that at no point did Mitchell identify Smart as his wife or that he was following God's commands.
"He seemed calm and he knew what he was doing," Perry said.
Perry ran past Mitchell up the circular staircase of the Deseret News building to get help. When she returned, Mitchell was gone but the poster remained.
Mitchell took other steps to prevent being caught, including cutting off all communication with his family and making Smart and Barzee take different trails when hiking to their campsite in the foothills above Salt Lake City so as not to leave a worn path.14 comments on this story
He told Smart that if he were ever arrested, "he had friends that would come after me and my family if he couldn't," she testified.
The trial will not resume again until Monday. The jury was given Veteran's Day and Friday off. The prosecution will resume calling witnesses. The trial is scheduled to go all next week before breaking for a week for Thanksgiving.