Trial to Begin for Elizabeth Smart's Accused Kidnapper

Trial to Begin for Elizabeth Smart's Accused Kidnapper
Elizabeth Smart
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

updated 10/30/2010 at 09:30 PM EDT

originally published 10/31/2010 09:30PM

After waiting seven years, Elizabeth Smart will finally face at trial the man accused of subjecting her to a horrifying nine-month abduction.

Jury selection begins Monday in federal court in Salt Lake City for self-proclaimed Utah prophet Brian David Mitchell, 57, on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault of Smart when she was 14 years old.

Smart made plans to fly back to Utah this weekend from her Mormon mission in Paris to testify against Mitchell, who in the past has been removed from the courtroom for loudly singing and quoting scriptures.

"Elizabeth will be glad to see it all coming to an end," her father, Ed Smart, tells PEOPLE. "We’ll all be there to support her in court. This whole thing has dragged on ridiculously long."





Alleged Accomplice Pleads Guilty

Mitchell and his common-law wife, Wanda Barzee, were found walking down a Salt Lake County street with Smart in March 2003. His defense team is expected to try and convince jurors that Mitchell is guilty by reason of insanity; the judge has found Mitchell competent to stand trial after years of hearings and appeals.

Ed Smart scoffs at the defense claim, saying Mitchell is "crazy like a fox" with his repeated attempts to disrupt courtroom hearings by singing and shouting.

"With a case like this, it doesn’t seem it should be this hard," he says. "[Mitchell] did what he did. There is DNA that’s irrefutable. It’s unbelievable to think this has taken seven years because somebody plays games. We’re really looking forward to having this over with."

If convicted, Mitchell faces a possible life sentence. Barzee, 64, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping last year, is serving a 15-year sentence in a federal facility.



Month-Long Trial

Mitchell’s trial could last a month or longer, with more than 50 witnesses for the prosecution and defense expected to testify, including Elizabeth, her mother, Lois, and her younger sister, Mary Katherine, who pretended to be asleep the night Elizabeth, then 14, was abducted in 2002.

Months after the kidnapping, Mary Katherine recalled that it was Mitchell, a temporary worker at the Smart home, who had allegedly abducted her sister at knife point to take her as a plural wife.

Details of her captivity were first revealed by Elizabeth last year at Mitchell’s competency hearing, when she calmly described how she was kept chained to a tree and raped three to four times daily by the former street preacher.

About to celebrate her 23rd birthday on Nov. 3, Elizabeth plans to return to Paris after the trial to serve the remaining five months of her mission, says Ed Smart.

"She’s been doing great and is getting on with her life," he says. "We’re all very proud of her."

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