EDITORS NOTE: While Deseret News reporters and editors have filtered much of the graphic detail from Mondays testimony, some readers may still find some of the following content objectionable.
SALT LAKE CITY — After being raped daily, tethered by her ankle between two trees "like an animal" and threatened constantly with being killed and having her family killed, Elizabeth Smart decided she would do whatever it took to survive.
"I would do everything he would tell me to do. I would keep my life and my family's life intact," Smart testified Monday.
Smart, who came from a family with strong LDS beliefs and was a very active member of the church, was forced to drink alcohol several times a week, smoke and when she wasn't being raped, forced to watch Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee engage in sexual intercourse. At one point, Smart, knowing she would be forced to drink later in the day and perform a sexual act, purposely didn't eat before drinking alcohol because "I didn't want to be sober for what was coming."
On Monday, Smart, who turned 23 last Wednesday, took the witness stand to testify in the federal trial of the man accused of kidnapping her. Smart returned home from her Mormon mission to Paris for the trial and will fly back to France when the trial is over to serve the remainder of her calling.
The three women of the Smart household — Elizabeth, Lois and Mary Katherine — all took the witness stand Monday. But the most dramatic testimony of the day came from Elizabeth, who returned to the stand a year after testifying in Mitchell's competency hearing.
Speaking in a soft but strong voice — not once needing to reach for the tissue box in front of her, and often pausing before continuing — Smart recounted in graphic and disturbing detail being abducted from her room in the middle of the night at knifepoint in June of 2002 and the nightmare that awaited her in a camp in the foothills above the Smarts' Federal Heights home.
Several members of the jury had looks of consternation and shock on their faces as Elizabeth Smart looked in their direction, though at times appearing not be focused on any particular person. She recounted the first time she was raped by Mitchell and subsequently raped nearly every day after.
Monday was the fifth day of the trial for the man accused of kidnapping Smart. It was the first time court was in session since late last week when the trial was temporarily stayed pending an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The day began with the defense resuming its opening arguments.
Defense attorney Parker Douglas essentially stipulated during his opening arguments that Mitchell committed the crimes of which he's accused, and then launched into an insanity defense for his client.
"There's very little or no disagreement about what happened," Douglas said. "We have a general disagreement about why it happened."
Douglas outlined a history of mental illness in Mitchell's family, dating back to his grandfather. He talked about how Mitchell showed signs of mental illness as early as 13. While the prosecution outlined a horrific scenario of what happened to a young girl over a nine-month period, Douglas told the jury it was just a snapshot of Mitchell's entire life.
The prosecution then launched into its case, painting a picture of a manipulating and scheming man who began plotting to kidnap Smart the moment he saw her on a downtown Salt Lake City street near the old Crossroads Mall in the fall of 2001.
Mitchell, who went by the name Immanuel, agreed to work on the roof of the Smart home just so he could find out where Elizabeth lived, said prosecutor Felice Viti. Mitchell worked for months on his plan to kidnap Smart, even walking down from his campsite in the foothills days before she was taken in order to scout out her house and the best escape route.
Smart entered the courtroom with her family Monday and sat in the front row next to her sister, Mary Katherine. As Mitchell was led into the courtroom at the beginning of the day, singing as he has in so many previous court appearances, Smart looked at him momentarily, but then did not watch him as he was led to his seat. Mitchell, who appeared to have his eyes closed and did not look around the courtroom, did not appear to openly notice Smart.
After U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball took his seat, he removed Mitchell from the room for refusing to stop singing.
Elizabeth Smart spent two-and-a-half hours on the witness stand Monday as prosecutors methodically went over nearly every detail of her abduction and the first few weeks of her captivity. Smart was scheduled to resume her testimony on Tuesday.
As she did during the 2009 competency hearing, Smart talked about being abducted from her home on June 5, 2002 at knifepoint. But she went into much more detail about her ordeal on Monday than before.
Smart talked about how she was a shy and modest 14-year-old girl who enjoyed reading, riding horses, running, academics and playing her harp. She had never been around people who drank or smoke before and did not date.
She was awakened that night by the feeling of something cold touching her neck.
" 'I have a knife to your neck. Get out of bed and come with me or I'll kill you and your family,' " Smart recounted Mitchell telling her. "He said he was taking me hostage, for ransom. I was shocked. I thought I was having a nightmare. It was just indescribable fear."
Mitchell told her to grab her tennis shoes. He then led her out her back door into the woods behind her house.
For the next four to five hours, Mitchell led Smart at knifepoint up the steep hillside to his hidden camp. Along the way, he had Elizabeth duck down and hide as a police car drove by and became worried about her bright red pajamas being spotted when they reached the ridge of the hillside.
While being taken to the remote campsite, Smart recognized her abductor as "Immanuel," the man who the family met while school shopping several months earlier, begging for money near the mall. At that time, Mitchell was clean shaven, had short hair, did not speak in religious overtones and appeared to just be a person down on his luck.
Smart asked Mitchell at the time why he would do such a thing to her when her parents had tried to help him.
"He said he understood exactly what he was doing and understood the consequences," Elizabeth testified.
As the hike continued further up the mountain, Smart testified, "I remember saying to him that if he were just going to rape and kill me, that he do it closer to the trail head so someone could find my remains. He just told me to keep going."
Mitchell threatened to kill Smart and her family if she tried to run away.
When they reached the campsite, Smart was led into a tent where she was introduced to Barzee, who hugged her and then washed her feet. She then made the girl take off her clothes and put on a burka-type robe. When Smart refused to take off her pajamas and underwear, Barzee told her that Mitchell would come in the tent and rip them off her body if she didn't.
Smart was left sitting on a bucket, crying, when Mitchell entered the tent, now also wearing a robe similar to hers. He came in, announced, "By the power of the holy Melchizedek priesthood, which I hold, I seal you to me here on this earth, and what I seal on this earth will be sealed in the hereafter, and I take you to be my wife."
Smart cried out, "No!" upon hearing this, and said Mitchell then threatened to have her mouth duct taped if she ever did that again.
After that, Mitchell forced a crying Smart onto the floor and violently raped her.
"I pleaded with him not to touch me, but it didn't work," she said.
Smart said she told Mitchell that she was still a little girl and had not had a period yet. Mitchell relayed that information to Barzee who was outside the tent and asked "if it was still OK. She said it was," Smart testified.
After the rape, Smart cried herself to sleep on the floor of the tent.
Smart's parents remained calm during their daughter's difficult testimony, showing little outward emotion.
The next morning, Smart said she was tethered with a cable wrapped around her ankle and the other end between two trees. The cable was long enough to reach a bucket on one end of the campsite, which served as her toilet, and the entrance to the tent on the other end. The times when the cable was taken off, it was only removed from between the two trees but still left around her ankle, forcing Smart to either drag it alongside her or carry it.
Prior to being tethered, Smart said she came up with a plan in her mind to run off and escape. Before, she was afraid of being killed by Mitchell. But by that point, she said she didn't care. Smart testified that she no longer felt "clean" or "pure."
"I wasn't worth the same, that my personal worth, my self values had just dropped. I felt like I was nothing. I didn't feel like another person could love me again," she testified.
But before she had the chance to run away, she was tied to a tree.
"I guess he planned on that, too," Smart said of her escape plan.
Over the next month, Smart was forced at times to walk around the campsite naked with Mitchell and Barzee — "like Adam and Eve," Mitchell told her — watch the defendants engage in sexual intercourse, raped multiple times, threatened and forced to drink and smoke.
During one time when Mitchell was trying to kiss Smart, she said she bit his tongue, prompting more threats from her captor.
During the afternoon break and when court was recessed for the day, Smart walked off the witness stand back to her parents, where her mother kissed both her cheeks and she was greeted by hugs from her father, sister and brother.
Earlier in the day, both Lois Smart, Elizabeth's mother, and Mary Katherine testified for the first time in court.
During her 50-minute testimony, Lois Smart spoke in a clear, strong voice, describing the first time she saw Mitchell panhandling.
"He looked like a clean cut, well kept man who was down on his luck," she said. "He did nothing to make me think he was mentally ill."
She gave him $5 and her husband's phone number. Mitchell called the next day.
When he later came to work at the Smart house, he fixed a leak on the roof near the two skylights, which looked down into a hallway, at the top of the staircase that led to the room of Elizabeth and Mary Katherine.
Lois Smart recalled how the window was left open that night because a pot of burned potatoes from dinner created a foul stench in the kitchen. She recalled how in the middle of the night, a then 9-year-old Mary Katherine "came into our bedroom. She had a baby blanket wrapped around her shoulders and head. She reminded me of a scared rabbit."
She then recounted the horror of going downstairs, turning on the lights, and seeing a U-shaped cut in her window screen.
"My heart sank and I yelled out to Ed, 'Call 911, she's gone!' " Lois Smart testified. "It was the worst feeling, knowing that I didn't know where my child was. I was helpless."
While Mary Katherine testified, Elizabeth smiled from the audience as her sister recounted how close the two were.
"We still are best friends. We're really close. We basically do everything together," she said.
Mary Katherine testified how she feigned sleep that night after hearing Mitchell enter their room.
"I thought if I got up, that he would take me too. I was very afraid," she said.
After Elizabeth was abducted, Mary Katherine spent the rest of the summer sleeping at her grandparents' home. When she went back to her own house when school started again, she spent the first several nights sleeping on the floor of her parents' bedroom. When she finally went back into her own bedroom, she made sure her dad checked on her every night before going to bed, "just to make sure I was still in there."
Prosecutors submitted several pieces of evidence Monday, including the actual window screen that was cut from the Smarts' kitchen, the book that Elizabeth read Mary Katherine the night she was abducted, the cable Elizabeth was tethered to a tree with for so long, a 3D topography map of the foothills where the Smarts' house is located and where Mitchell's campsite was hidden, and several pictures of the inside of the Smarts' house, Elizabeth's bedroom and the campsite where Mitchell held her hostage.
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