Friday, December 10, 2010

After Only Five Hours Deliberation, Utah Federal Jury Rejects Brian David Mitchell's Insanity Defense, Convicts Him Of Kidnapping Elizabeth Smart

The long-running eight-and-a-half year case against Brian David Mitchell ended almost anticlimatically in Salt Lake City on December 10th, 2010 when, after a surprisingly short deliberation period of only five hours, a Federal jury rejected Mitchell's insanity defense, and convicted him of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity. They rejected testimony by a parade of experts who took the witness stand to say Mitchell had an array of diagnoses, from a rare delusional disorder and schizophrenia to pedophilia, anti-social personality disorder and narcissism, and accepted the prosecutions' contention that Mitchell was faking mental illness to avoid a conviction. Mitchell could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced on May 25th, 2011; he will remain incarcerated in the Salt Lake County Jail.

The Salt Lake Tribune's most current story is HERE, and a portal to all previous Tribune stories HERE. Deseret News story HERE. KUTV Channel 2 report HERE. KSTU Channel 13 report HERE. The KSL news video embedded below contains multiple reports:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


Summary of Preliminary Reaction: Even before the verdict was read, Mitchell's defense attorney Robert Steele came over and shook hands with Smart and her parents, Ed and Lois Smart, to show that it wasn't personal. During the reading of the verdict, Mitchell began to sing louder, as he did throughout much of the trial. After the jury was dismissed, Elizabeth Smart and her family began exchanging hugs with each other and with attorneys. Smart also hugged her former missionary companion, who has been with her throughout the trial.

Rebecca Woodridge, Mitchell's stepdaughter from his second marriage, started crying when the verdict was read and expressed concern about Mitchell's safety in prison; she believes he's mentally ill. U.S. Attorney for Utah Carlie Christensen called the prosecution "an exceptional effort by an extraordinary trial team" and praised Elizabeth Smart for making the difference. Even politicians weighed in; Gov. Gary Herbert said that the verdict had been a long time coming, and expressed his belief that it was the correct verdict, while Senator Orrin Hatch said that justice was finally served thanks to the tireless efforts of the prosecution, this jury and the determination and amazing resilience of the entire Smart family, characterizing them as a "profile in courage". Smart first gave testimony during Mitchell's initial competency hearing on October 1st, 2009, even before she went on her mission to France.

Jury Demographics: The jury consisted of seven men and five women. Seven of them identified as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, two were Roman Catholic, two Presbyterian, and one Greek Orthodox. The three-day jury selection process was reported HERE (day one), HERE (day two), and HERE (day three).

As for Elizabeth Smart, she was given permission to temporarily suspend her LDS mission to France to return to Utah for the trial. She is expected to return to France to complete the remaining six months of her mission.

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