Testimony Eight Years In The Making
Elizabeth Smart testified Monday at the trial of Brian David Mitchell, who is accused of abducting Smart from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in 2002 and holding her for nine months.
Elizabeth Smart and her family arrived at the Salt Lake City Federal Courthouse Monday morning to dark skies that quickly matched the dark mood inside the courtroom.
Now 23 years old, Smart took the witness stand and described in detail the first night of her abduction back in June of 2002.
Smart described how she woke to a cold knife at her throat -- how her accused kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, married her the same night in a bizarre religious ritual, then raped her almost every day until her rescue 9 months later.
Her sister, Mary Katherine, also testified, describing the terror she felt when she saw her older sister being forced out of their bed.
Their mother took the stand too, explaining that the family once hired Mitchell as a handyman because they felt sorry for him – but never imagining the horror ahead.
Mitchell, meanwhile, was forced to leave the courtroom before testimony began, because he wouldn't stop singing.
His defense team doesn't dispute the kidnapping, but they sought to portray him as a deranged man who didn't know he was doing wrong.
A claim that legal experts say will be tough to prove.
"The defense is going to have to show that he couldn't understand the wrongfulness of his actions and the prosecution has all kinds of things to show he was hiding himself or trying to hide Elizabeth”, says University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell. “It's going to make it difficult for him to prove that he thought he wasn't doing something wrong with the kind of proof they have.”
Outside the courthouse, a woman claiming to be Brian Mitchell's stepdaughter said he also abused her for five years.
Still, she said, he deserves a fair trial.
"I don't think he knows what he is doing and I don't think he is getting a fair trial. I think he's getting railroaded by the system", said Rebecca Woodridge.
Elizabeth Smart takes the stand again Tuesday.