Stepdaughters provide emotional testimony of abuse by Brian David Mitchell

Published: Friday, Dec. 3 2010 5:33 p.m. MST

"It was a complete 180, absolutely. I actually liked who he was in church. The image that was presented at home, there was nothing but torment and chaos," Gayler said. "Power was important to Brian and he could never have enough."

Before Gayler ran away from Mitchell and Barzee's home, he started referring to himself as a prophet, she said. It was when he couldn't get the kind of power he wanted in the LDS Church that he started taking matters into his own hands, Gayler said.

Gayler said she has a hard time even today calling Barzee her mother.

Earlier in the day Friday, Woodridge took the witness stand, appearing very nervous and timid during her brief testimony. She held a tissue to wipe away tears, especially when discussing abuse that she suffered. Woodridge lived with Mitchell from ages 9 to 12.

One day while she was taking a bath, she said she heard movement from behind a nearby linen closet.

"I turned around and (Mitchell) was taking pictures of me while I was taking a bath," she said tearfully.

On another occasion, Mitchell and Debbie Woodridge were in a heated "in your face" type of argument. "Sometime after, I heard her scream," she said.

Heidi Woodridge went into the kitchen to find out what was wrong, and saw dead mice had been put inside the burners of the stove.

"She was just upset, she was petrified of mice," Woodridge said.

Prosecutors called a total of seven rebuttal witnesses to the stand Friday.

The longest testimony of the day came from Daniel Peterson, a professor of religious studies at BYU and an expert in religious texts. Prosecutors used Peterson mostly in an attempt to rebut the testimony of Dr. Richart DeMier, a veteran psychologist who examined Mitchell at the federal prison in Missouri and testified Thursday he believed Mitchell was paranoid schizophrenic.

DeMier said Mitchell's religious delusions were bizarre, meaning they weren't plausible.

But based on his readings of Mitchell's "Book of Immanuel David Isaiah," Peterson said he believed Mitchell's religious beliefs had many similarities to mainstream LDS teachings. Rather than rambling nonsense, Peterson called the books well-written.

"It's absolutely full of quotations, particularly from scriptural sources," he said. "(It) makes sense. He was never lost."

Mitchell's writings are full of scriptural references to the point that Peterson said he does not believe they contain a lot of information that hasn't already been said or written by someone else. The two volumes of books were written like a student term paper, lifting passages from many other sources, he said.

"One thing that strikes me about the (Book of Immanuel David Isaiah) is the barrenness of it. It just doesn't have a lot of ideas," he said.

Mitchell seemed to borrow from the Book of Mormon, the Old Testament, speeches from LDS prophets and even some Hebrew writings to form his manuscripts.

To say there was no cultural explanation for Mitchell's beliefs, therefore making them bizarre as DeMier testified, was wrong, Peterson said.

Concerning revelations, Peterson said Mitchell's ideas were very similar to those of practicing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "His view of inspiration he describes is no different than, say, a mainstream Latter-day Saint would describe."

One difference, however, was that some of Mitchell's revelations lasted more than a year, which Peterson said is an idea and not a revelation.

Mitchell's idea of the Second Coming and the establishment of Zion is also based on mainstream Mormonism.

DeMier said Mitchell's "revelation" that Barzee, who had a hysterectomy, would be the mother of Zion and her womb would bear a child, was a bizarre delusion. But in a cultural context, Peterson said in the resurrection, you get everything back — a typical Mormon belief.

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