Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell leaves Utah for federal prison

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 31 2011 2:33 p.m. MDT

Elizabeth Smart speaks following the sentencing of Brian David Mitchell in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — After more than eight years in custody in the state of Utah, jail officials confirmed Wednesday that convicted kidnapper Brian David Mitchell is en route to federal prison.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Michael Deniro, a spokesman for the jail, said Mitchell was transferred out of the Salt Lake County Jail by federal marshals Wednesday.

Though Mitchell became known for his courtroom antics, Mitchell apparently didn't cause any problems in jail.

"He has not been a behavioral problem for us during his stay," Deniro said.

He also said Mitchell's tenure in the county facility came at a low cost as "federal prisoners are fully paid for by the federal government."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not provide information regarding inmate movement until the inmate arrives at their designated facility. It normally takes about six to eight weeks after sentencing before an inmate is designated for a certain location.  

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Mitchell to life in prison in May in connection with the high profile kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken at knifepoint from her Federal Heights home in 2002.

The girl recounted in court what she described as "nine months of hell" with Mitchell and his estranged wife, Wanda Barzee. The pair held the then-14-year-old girl captive and in disguise, threatening her if she attempted to escape. She testified that she was raped almost daily.

Though Mitchell was charged and convicted in federal court, he also faced six felonies including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the state court system.

He couldn't be transferred into federal custody until the state case was resolved, so, in July, those charges were dismissed after prosecutors said they couldn't get more than the sentence that was already handed down in federal court.

Several witnesses said Mitchell believes he is a prophet who was commanded to take Smart as his wife. His attorneys have argued that he suffers from mental illness, but jurors, ultimately, decided he still knew right from wrong.

Rebecca Woodridge, Mitchell's former stepdaughter who has visited him in jail almost weekly, has said previously that Mitchell remains firm in his conviction that he was acting according to God's will. He is committed to doing the same wherever he ends up.

"He says he's just ready to move on and do God's work somewhere else," Woodridge said.

Once Mitchell has been transported, his location can be found at: www.bop.gov/inmate_locator.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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