Elizabeth Smart Can Testify in Accused Kidnapper’s Competency Hearing

Judge’s ruling sets the stage for courtroom confrontation later this week

A federal judge has ruled that Elizabeth Smart can testify in the upcoming mental competency hearing for her accused kidnapper. In a ruling issued Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball denied a defense motion to bar Smart from testifying in the case of Brian David Mitchell.
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Good Morning America segment on the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case, broadcasted March, 2008

The ruling sets the stage for Smart to confront her accused kidnapper more than six years after she was abducted from her bedroom. In 2002, Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home. She was found nine months later walking a street in Sandy, in the company of the homeless street preacher and his wife, Wanda Barzee.
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In court papers, federal prosecutors said they wanted to call Elizabeth Smart to the witness stand to testify about what they claim are inconsistencies in Mitchell’s use of religious terminology and references to himself as a prophet; his manipulation of others; his ability to blend in at times; and his rationalization of his conduct.


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Defense attorneys claimed Smart’s testimony was unnecessary. But in his ruling, Kimball said even psychologists have had trouble questioning Mitchell, forcing them to rely on witness interviews — including Smart.
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Smart isn’t the only witness defense attorneys are quibbling over. In a court filing late Monday obtained by Fox 13 News, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah pushed to have a pair of expert witnesses present testimony making comparisons between the delusional writings of Brian David Mitchell and those of polygamist leader Ervil LeBaron. Federal prosecutors wrote that psychologists evaluating Mitchell have “seriously misjudged and misunderstood the cotnent and context of the defendant’s religious thinking and writing.”

Federal prosecutors seek to draw comparisons between Mitchell’s manifesto, entitled the “Book of Emmanuel David” and Ervil LeBaron’s “Book of the New Commandment.” LeBaron was a polygamist leader who ordered the slayings of rivals in the 1970s before dying in prison in 1981. “The Book of the New Commandment” was believed to have been a hit list, preaching blood atonement.

In its filing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah challenged diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and a delusional disorder, saying the psychologists misunderstand what Mitchell is writing and how dangerous it can be.
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– Source / Full Story: Elizabeth Smart Can Testify in Accused Kidnapper’s Competency Hearing, FOX 13 (Utah), Sep. 28, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Sep. 29, 2009