Jurors deliberating in Elizabeth Smart trial

By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY (BestGrowthStock) – Jurors began deliberating on Thursday in the trial of a self-styled prophet accused of kidnapping teenager Elizabeth Smart after a prosecutor urged them to convict him and defense lawyers argued he was insane.

The seven-man, five-woman jury went behind closed doors before 6 p.m. Mountain Time and deliberated for about three hours before quitting for the night.

They were scheduled to resume on Friday morning.

Earlier in the day, a prosecutor urged the panel to find Brian David Mitchell guilty of abducting Smart on June 5, 2002 and holding her captive for nine months, saying they should reject his insanity defense and religious trappings as a ruse.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana Hagen, making her closing argument in the sensational trial, hours before the jury was expected to get the case, said Brian David Mitchell should be found guilty despite defense claims that he was mentally ill.

“Everything Brian David Mitchell did before, during and after the kidnapping proves that he knew what he was doing was wrong,” Hagen said.

The prosecutor also implored the jury to see past Mitchell’s self-styled persona as a prophet — saying that his claims to be acting on orders from God were nothing more than a pedophile’s tricks.

“His talk of obedience to God’s command was a justification for what he knew was wrong,” Hagen said.

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Of the flowing robes and veils that Mitchell forced Smart to wear, she said: “The veils had no religious significance, but were for the sole purpose of disguising Elizabeth Smart so Brian David Mitchell would not be captured.”

Defense attorney Bob Steele countered that the jury needed to make up their own minds about Mitchell’s mental state.

“If I’ve convinced you that (Mitchell believes) God told him to kidnap, take Elizabeth Smart, take another wife, he’s not guilty by reason of insanity,” Steele said.

Steele said that in Mitchell’s belief system, “God’s commands are bigger than man’s laws. What God tells you to do is the right thing.”

Mitchell, 57, is charged with abducting Smart, who was then 14, from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002 with the intent of forcing her to live as his young bride.

Smart’s abduction in the middle of the night, from the bed she shared with her sister, made international headlines and a nine-month search for the missing teen gripped America.

Now a young woman of 23, Smart testified during the six-week trial that Mitchell kidnapped her at knifepoint, marched her several miles into the foothills above Salt Lake City and raped her.

She has described her time as Mitchell’s captive as “nine months of hell” in which she was at first kept chained to a tree and raped nearly every day.

Smart was rescued in March of 2003 after she was spotted by passersby walking with Mitchell and his wife on a street in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy.

Mitchell’s estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, pleaded guilty in November, 2009 to conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping and is serving a 15-year prison term.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Greg McCune)

Jurors deliberating in Elizabeth Smart trial