Mitchell sentenced to life behind bars for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Editor's note: The following includes an unofficial transcript of much of the sentencing hearing for Brian David Mitchell. Tweets of the hearing can be viewed @DNewsCrimeTeam.
SALT LAKE CITY — Brian David Mitchell will live out the remainder of his days behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper and tormentor to life in federal prison Wednesday. A jury convicted Mitchell last December of abducting Smart early in 2002 when she was 14 and taking her across state lines for the purpose of having sex.
"Today is the ending of a very long chapter and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me," Smart said following the sentencing. "I am so thrilled with the results that came out today, the life sentence. I couldn't be happier."
Smart spoke directly to Mitchell during the hearing for the first time since being held captive for nine months eight years ago.
"I don’t have very much say to you. I know exactly what you did, and I know that you know what you did was wrong and you did it with a full knowledge of that," she said.
"I want you to know that I have a wonderful life now. No matter what you do, you will never affect me again. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned. But I know that in this life or the next you will be held responsible for what you have done, and I hope you're ready for that when it comes."
Mitchell, 57, sat singing hymns while Smart spoke to him and did not acknowledge her.
Prosecutor Felice Viti pushed for the strongest penalty possible for the man who claimed he had a revelation to "plunder" young wives between ages 10 and 14. Mitchell, he said, conceived the plan to kidnap and sexually abuse young girls.
In issuing the sentence, Kimball called it "heinous and degrading" set of facts and circumstances that lasted for nine month. "It's horrible, unusual for this type of crime," he said.
Viti asked the judge to push Mitchell's sentence to life based on several factors, though Mitchell's courtroom behavior was not one of them.
Mitchell wasn't cooperative with evaluators who compiled his pre-sentence report, which Viti argued caused an obstruction that would justify a heavier sentence.
In considering the sentence, the judge also considered age of victim, length of time held, use of dangerous weapon and sexual exploitation and abuse.
Mitchell waived his right to be in the courtroom during the first part of the sentencing hearing. After attorneys argued about what the sentence should be, Mitchell was brought into the courtroom in order for Smart to address him.
He was singing, "O Come O Come Emanuel" as he entered and he continued to sing hymns with his eyes closed throughout the rest of the hearing. He wasn't singing as loudly as he had in the past during the trial.
"It is a measure of justice for Elizabeth," said U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen, who said she felt Mitchell received an appropriate sentence that will ensure he doesn't similarly harm anyone else again.
"This is a great day for the Smart family," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim McTighe.
Felice Viti said that in his years as a prosecutor, he has "never met a more poised, dignified or special person than Elizabeth Smart. ... I just thought, 'Good for her. She finally had an opportunity to face'" her kidnapper.
Smart's grandmother, Dorotha Smart, said she loved being able to see her children "rise to the occasion and band together. She said she attended most of Mitchell's hearings, except for those where her granddaughter detailed the abuse she suffered.
"I was very confident Judge Kimball would come to this conclusion. It's not a surprise to me," she said.
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