SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News' coverage of the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial earned the newspaper top honors for general reporting in the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association awards.
Reporters Pat Reavy, Dennis Romboy, Paul Koepp and Emiley Morgan combined to cover the six-week trial that ended with Brian David Mitchell being found guilty of kidnapping Smart and taking her across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity.
The Dec. 10, 2010, verdict came more than 8½ years after Smart, then 14, was abducted from her bedroom window and held hostage for nine months. Six months later, Mitchell was sentenced to life in federal prison.
The Deseret News' coverage of the trial included testimony from Smart, whom Reavy described as "strong and poised" throughout the proceedings.
Reavy also received a pair of third-place awards in the contest for overall beat reporting and for a spot-news story about the body of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy being found and the arrest of the boy's mother and stepfather. Reavy shared the award for that story with former Deseret News reporter Lana Groves.
Sara Lenz and Brian West earned first place in investigative reporting for "Body of Lies," which documented a yearlong investigation of Martin MacNeill and the suspicious death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.
Elizabeth Stuart took second place in that category with her investigation into Islamic links at the Beehive Science & Technology Academy, a Utah charter school. Stuart also earned third place in the feature story category.
Deseret News photographers also had a strong showing in the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association contest.
Laura Seitz took home first place and "Best of Show" awards in the picture story/photo essay category for images in a series about addressing the causes of homelessness.
Seitz's overall portfolio also received first-place honors, and she earned second place in the general news photo category. Seitz's Deseret News colleagues Kristin Murphy and Mike Terry earned second and third place, respectively, for their overall portfolios.
Tom Smart took home top honors in the sports feature photo category with "Just Missed," an image that shows Carlos Boozer's reaction to a missed final shot during the Utah Jazz's playoff series against the L.A. Lakers in May 2010.
Murphy earned first place in the sports photo division for "Mud," a photo of a muddy saddle bronc rider during the state high school rodeo finals in June 2010. She also earned a pair of third-place awards in the picture story/photo essay and feature photo classifications.
Terry received a second-place award in the portrait division and third-place honors for sports feature photo.
Other Deseret News reporters and photographers who received awards were Jeff Allred, second place in spot-news photography; Jay Evensen, third place for editorials; and Mike Sorensen, third place in sports features.
Overall, the Deseret News finished third in general excellence behind The Idaho Statesman and The Spokesman-Review.
Deseret News reporters and photographers competed with other newspapers in the region with a circulation of more than 50,000.