SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart testified Wednesday that the street preacher accused of kidnapping her in 2002 frequently prayed that the teenager would fulfill her marital duty of having sex – something she said was “about the farthest thing” from her prayers.
Smart took the stand a third day and gave a spirited rejection of Brian David Mitchell‘s defense contention that he suffers from an escalating mental illness and holds extreme religious beliefs that lead him to think he is directed by God.
Mitchell was a crude, vulgar, self-serving person who used religion to justify his actions, including her kidnapping and rape over nine months, she said, calling him a hypocrite.
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“He was his number one priority, followed by sex, drugs and alcohol, but he used religion in all of those aspects to justify everything,” Smart said in a clear voice, confidently expressing her own religious knowledge.
“Nine months of living with him and seeing him proclaim that he was God’s servant and called to do God’s work and everything he did to me and my family is something that I know that God would not tell somebody to do,” she said. “God would never tell someone to kidnap her at knifepoint from their bed, from her sister’s side … never continue to rape her and sexually abuse her.”
Elizabeth Smart cross-examined by defense
Wednesday marked the third straight day of testimony given by Elizabeth Smart at the trial of her alleged kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, and the first day the 23-year-old faced cross-examination from the defense.
But defense attorney Robert Steele’s cross-examination of Smart was brief, just 40 minutes. It was also was polite and fairly non-confrontational, with Steele mostly seeking to clarify statements Smart made during direct testimony.
Smart at one point thanked Steele — who at times referred to Smart’s interview with psychiatrist Park Dietz soon after her rescue in March 2003 — for refreshing her memory. Yet Smart showed a touch of defiance at times, most notably near the end of Steele’s questions, when he asked about her description of Mitchell waking her in the night with a knife to her throat during her 2002 abduction from her Salt Lake City home.
“That first night in your bedroom, you describe feeling something,” Steele said. “It was the knife, cold, sharp, him saying ‘Don’t make a sound. Come with me,’ it’s a clear, clear threat to harm you, if you don’t?”
“Yes,” Smart replied.
“And it doesn’t necessarily matter what he says next, it’s a threat to kill you?” asked Steele.
With an edge to her voice, Smart replied: “I have no other idea how to interpret it with a knife at my neck.”
“Is it possible that time, not the other times, that he said ‘I don’t want to have to hurt you and your family’,” Steele asked. “Still a threat to kill you, but were those were his words?”
“It was possible,” Smart said, this time with less heat.
Over the past two days, Smart has testified about the harrowing nine months of captivity she spent with Mitchell, 57, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 65. She has recounted Mitchell subjecting her to near-daily rapes and forcing her to drink alcohol and smoke drugs after abducting her.
Prosecutors arguing against Mitchell’s insanity defense have elicited testimony from Smart demonstrating Mitchell was focused on sex, able to change his appearance and mannerisms to avoid detection, and had carefully planned her kidnapping.