Last witness in Smart trial: Mitchell not mentally ill

By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY (BestGrowthStock) – The final witness in the trial of a homeless street preacher accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart said on Wednesday that the defendant was a pedophile who showed no remorse for his actions but was not mentally ill.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner told the court he interviewed 57 people — including Smart — and reviewed dozens of documents, reports and records in completing an exhaustive evaluation of Brian David Mitchell.

He concluded that Mitchell was anti-social and a narcissist but not suffering from any severe mental defect.

“He’s a pedophile and that has to be front and center,” Welner said, adding: “He has no remorse for what he has done to Elizabeth Smart.”

Mitchell, 57, is charged with taking Smart from her Salt Lake City home and holding her captive for nine months with the intent of forcing her to live as his young bride.

Smart testified during the main prosecution case that Mitchell kidnapped her at knifepoint from the bed she shared with her younger sister, marched her several miles into the foothills above Salt Lake City and raped her.

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

Welner, the last witness to be called in the case, said Mitchell likely believed that he was intellectually superior to most people and took advantage of them.

“To know Brian David Mitchell is to be fooled by Brian David Mitchell,” he said, adding that he considered the insights of Smart, who is now 23, especially valuable.

“Elizabeth Smart is one of only two people who interacted with Brian David Mitchell when his guard was down,” Welner said. “She could inform me about how he was emotionally, interpersonally, over a nine-month period.”

Outside court, Mitchell’s step-daughter told Reuters in a brief interview that he does not consider himself mentally ill.

“Brian doesn’t think he’s insane, he thinks he’s normal, that God told him to do this,” Rebecca Woodridge said, adding that she considers him “a very ill man who doesn’t have all of his faculties there.”

Woodridge said her stepfather believes he will be convicted. “He believes that he’ll be found guilty because they’ve all been brainwashed,” she said.

Smart has returned to Utah for the trial from Paris, where she is serving a mission for the Mormon church.

Mitchell’s estranged wife, 64-year-old Wanda Barzee, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the case and is cooperating with prosecutors.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Bohan)

Last witness in Smart trial: Mitchell not mentally ill