Attorneys want Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper sent to mental health facility, instead of prison

They also argue that Smart wasn't that psychologically damaged

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

After Mitchell's conviction, Utah Coalition Against Sexual Abuse executive director Alana Kindness told the Deseret News it could be difficult for the community to understand that rape survivors react differently to the legal process, and how a community perceives the reaction of a survivor can affect whether or not they believe or support them.

"What is interesting in terms of public response to rape is how often that ability to talk about it and reflect on it without breaking down is used against victims in a trial to discredit them," Kindness said. "We have this idea of how someone should behave, so we're shocked when they don't behave that way."

Other victim advocates said the way Smart has moved on since her abduction shows how Smart isn't going to let that moment of her life define her.

Smart's father, Ed Smart, said when he initially heard about the objection he was outraged.

"I thought it was pretty ridiculous," he said Tuesday. "Elizabeth has been amazingly resilient. But did it cause her psychological trauma? Oh my gosh! Give me a break!"

After talking to prosecutors, however, Ed Smart said he understood such a motion is fairly typical in the legal system.

"We have confidence what was testified to," he said. "We're hoping, praying he gets the life sentence."

Also in their objections, Mitchell's attorneys said their client should not receive enhanced penalties for being the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping.

"The facts adduced at trial do not support the application of an enhancement for Mr. Mitchell as the organizer, leader, manager or supervisor of the criminal activity," attorneys wrote in court documents. "Rather, the facts amply demonstrate that the co-defendants in this case acted equally in harmony and in concert, particularly at first as the criminal activity unfolded."

Mitchell's estranged wife and co-defendant, Wanda Barzee, struck plea deals in both her state and federal cases after being restored to competency in 2009. She was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

The defense also asked that a paragraph in the pre-sentence report that apparently classifies Barzee as being a "victim" of Mitchell be removed, "as it is not at all relevant to any sentencing issue in this matter."

Prosecutors can now file a reply to the defense's objections.

Elizabeth Smart, who just recently returned home after serving an LDS Church mission in France, is expected to address the court — and Mitchell — when he is sentenced May 25.

Email: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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