Elizabeth Smart – First Week of Trial
The first week of the most publicized trial in Utah and the nation, came to an end this week. Brian David Mitchell’s trial for the alleged kidnapping, rape, and assault of Elizabeth Smart commenced through, jury selection, opening statements, and the prosecution’s first set of witnesses including Elizabeth Smart. The first few days have been anything but boring with the defendant singing in the court room, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stopping the trial, and Elizabeth Smart providing detailed testimony about her days in captivity. This article recaps these and other highlights of the first week of the trial of Brain David Mitchell. The Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers at Salcido Law Firm will provide updated information on this trial through the blog each week.
Mitchell Sings and Disrupts Proceedings
In a hearing just prior the beginning of trial, while sitting in court, the defendant began singing hymns and other religious melodies. His disruption became so loud and obnoxious; the judge finally removed him from the courtroom to an adjacent room where he could watch the proceedings on a television. The defense lawyers raised the issue of insanity on the behalf of the defendant but the federal court, unlike the state court several years ago, found the defendant able to stand trial in the instant case.
Appeals Court Considers Venue Arguments
Many lawyers, including those involved on both sides, were very surprised this week when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the trial midway through the prosecution’s opening statements to consider whether or not the trial should be moved to another venue. The question before the appeals court was whether or not the jury selected was unbiased enough and able to give a verdict in accordance with the law. The appeals court found the jury proper and the trial continued the next day in the federal district court in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The prosecution commenced opening statements followed by the defense attorneys. The story told by the prosecution was that of a man who used religion to justify criminal actions against Elizabeth Smart.
Mother and Sister Testify
To begin the prosecution’s case, Elizabeth Smart’s sister and mother took the witness stand. They both recounted the horror they experienced when they discovered Elizabeth was missing.
Elizabeth Smart’s Testimony
Elizabeth Smart took the witness stand this week. She first began her testimony by describing the night she was taken. Elizabeth Smart testified the defendant woke her up in the middle of the night with a knife to her throat and that he walked her out of her room to a camp in the woods where he performed a marriage ceremony and raped her. She also testified that for the first month and half he kept her tied to a tree and raped her every day. She further testified of events as they transpired throughout the several months of her captivity. On her final day of testimony she concluded with a description of the defendant as being crude and self serving individual, concerned only with sex and alcohol, and using religion to justify his actions. The defense lawyers in the case cross examined Elizabeth Smart for only 15 minutes.
The trial is expected to take several weeks. We will continue to provide information regarding the trial and story’s surrounding it in the weeks to come.
For more information the criminal legal process in Utah, or if you have been accused of a crime, you can speak with a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney at Salcido Law Firm any time by calling 801.618.1334.