SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A jury found a rambling street preacher guilty Friday of the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart in a case that has tugged at hearts around the nation ever since the Utah teenager was snatched from her bedroom and resurfaced nine months later.
Brian David Mitchell could face up to a life in prison when he is sentenced.
Smart and her family have hoped for the guilty verdict and a long sentence to end the ordeal that began when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint and held captive for nine months when she was 14.
Smart, now 23, attended the entire trial and provided gripping testimony, describing how she woke up one night to the feel of a cold, jagged knife and being thrust into “nine months of hell” in a mountainside camp.
Elizabeth Smart kidnapper guilty
Mitchell was convicted of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity for allegedly holding Smart captive for nine months, including near-daily rapes and a trip to California and back.
He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on May 25, which allows time for a presentencing report to be completed.
Mitchell was present in the courtroom while the verdict was read, singing the LDS hymn “He Died. The Great Redeemer Died.”
Defense attorneys had argued Mitchell was insane at the time he kidnapped a then-14-year-old Smart from her bed at knifepoint to make her a plural wife. A not guilty by reason of insanity verdict would have meant Mitchell, a self-described prophet preparing to battle the anti-Christ, would have gone to a mental health facility rather than prison.