Brian Mitchell gets life in prison

The two life sentences come as a surprise to exactly nobody. The judge pretty much had no choice. Anything else would have been political suicide (except the death penalty, which was not an option).

Elizabeth Smart spoke out at the sentencing and to the media later, saying she was glad it was over, etc., and telling Mitchell she was having a wonderful life, no thanks to him. Mitchell did what he usually does, which is sit and sing hymns. I reckon Elizabeth didn’t much care what he had to say in any case.

Articles:
The Examiner
The Guardian
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Los Angeles Times

More on Elizabeth Smart

I wrote earlier that the defense is arguing Elizabeth didn’t suffer “extreme psychological injury” from her kidnapping, rape and abuse at the hands of Brian David Mitchell. I found an editorial about this; the first sentence sums it up perfectly: “Even the worst criminals are entitled to legal representation, but do attorneys have to make offensive comments while defending them?” Another editorial argues that Mitchell’s attorney is just trying to defend his client as he is constitutionally obliged to do. To coin a cliche, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor is of course arguing for a life sentence for Mitchell. The minimum he can get is 30 years.

“A life sentence is necessary to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant,” prosecutors wrote. ” … the defendant is a pedophile who has victimized not only Ms. Smart, but other children as well.

“Not only is the defendant a recidivist, but his refusal to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his conduct poses an even greater risk of future crimes against children. This defendant cannot be released back into society.”

Prosecutors also noted Smart’s vulnerability at the time of her abduction.

“The defendant knew Ms. Smart was particularly vulnerable to his crimes because of the unusually heinous, cruel, brutal, degrading and humiliating abuse to which he subjected her,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant rendered her vulnerable by intentionally creating a climate of fear for her own safety and that of her family. When he first abducted her, he held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her and her family. Throughout her captivity, he continually threatened to kill her and her family.”

In total agreement there.

And, from the comments section of the aforementioned article, a dirty joke. One commenter said, “What he deserves is castration. Then put him in the prisons general population until his castration has healed. Once that is complete, a public hanging would be in order.” Another replied, “But he wouldn’t be hanging anymore.”

Elizabeth herself just did a rare interview with the press. Read about it here, or read the transcript here. She points out that May 25, Mitchell’s sentencing date, is also National Missing Children’s Day. A neat little parallel.

Elizabeth is an incredibly strong woman and I really admire her. I actually looked to her for some coping techniques after my own experience: don’t let it define you, don’t let him take from you any more than he already has, rely on your support system and do your best to get on with life because if you can do that, you’re not letting him win.

Brian Mitchell’s attorney claims Elizabeth Smart wasn’t very traumatized

Brian David Mitchell is going to be sentenced soon for kidnapping fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, holding her captive for nine months, starving her, forcing her to take alcohol and drugs, and raping her repeatedly. One of the aggravating factors put forth by the prosecution is that she suffered “extreme psychological injury.” Well, Mitchell’s defense attorney is saying Elizabeth DIDN’T suffer extreme psychological injury from what he calls Mitchell’s “extreme conduct.” He points out her statements that the kidnapping didn’t destroy her life and her future, her composure while on the witness stand, and the fact that she’s a well-functioning, stable adult who’s completing a college degree.

This is ridiculous. Elizabeth appears to have admirable courage and fortitude and has certainly coped with her situation much better than most people would, but NO ONE can go through what she went through without being very traumatized. The attorney is grasping at straws — probably because straws are all he has to grasp at. There’s not much to say to mitigate Mitchell’s crimes. But it’s still really not classy to try to use Elizabeth’s strength as an excuse to give Mitchell a light sentence.

The attorney also argues that the judge ought to take Mitchell’s (not great) physical health and his (very poor) mental health as a factor in sentencing. I can see more sense in that. But let’s face it. The guy is 57 years old now. Even if he doesn’t actually get a life sentence, he will die in prison. And he deserves it.

Some of the articles suggest that Mitchell’s lawyer is only trying to make sure Mitchell will not be able to appeal on the grounds of ineffective counsel. It is the duty of a defense attorney to pursue every possible means to help their client, but that doesn’t mean we the public have to like it.

Articles:
Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune 2
ABC 4
United Press International
The Deseret News (a long one)
KSL
Fox 13

Brian David Mitchell convicted

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Brian David Mitchell has been convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and will face a sentence of up to life in prison. He won’t be sentenced till May. My guess is that he’ll spend most of his time in solitary to protect him from the other prisoners.

Elizabeth is, understandably, very happy with the verdict. She may be even happier that the case, after, what, eight years, is finally, finally finished.

Brian David Mitchell FINALLY ruled competent to stand trial

A mere seven years after his arrest, Brian David Mitchell has been ruled competent to stand trial for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. His defense attorney expects the trial will take place last year. Experts’ opinion of Mitchell’s mental status has been divided and everyone concedes that there’s a lot wrong with him, but the judge believes he is capable of assisting his defense and is faking some of his symptoms in order to avoid a trial. Mitchell’s wife and partner in crime, Wanda Barzee, was also initially ruled incompetent, but later on she pleaded guilty.

This is basically going to be a show trial — I mean, what does the state have left to prove? Everyone knows what Mitchell did and I don’t envy his lawyers, having to advocate for that piece of scum. This case has dragged on long enough.

One of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnappers pleads guilty

Wanda Barzee, Brian David Mitchell’s accomplice in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, pleaded guilty today. She got fifteen years in prison. She’s already spent the last five years in a mental hospital. It’s only recently that they decide to forcibly medicate her and she became competent enough to stand trial. As to whether Mitchell will is up for grabs — the courts say he can’t be forcibly medicated.

Barzee apologized to Elizabeth and her family for the suffering she caused them, which is only proper. I feel a little sorry for her. She seems like a pathetic, weak woman. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be punished for her actions.

Elizabeth Smart goes public

Elizabeth Smart, who (as I am about to unnecessarily explain) was abducted by Brian Mitchell and held for nine months back in 2002, has testified at a hearing to determine Mitchell’s competency and has detailed the horrors of her captivity for the first time.

Elizabeth is now 21 and a music major at Brigham Young University. She’s grown into a beautiful young woman. The details she gives don’t surprise me a bit: rape several times a day, forced to take drugs and alcohol, constantly threatened with death, etc. Elizabeth seems shockingly well-adjusted for having gone through all that — evidence for my theory that human beings are amazingly resilient and have the potential to bounce back from anything.

Elizabeth also says that Mitchell seemed perfectly rational all the time while he held her and only started going on about religion and being a prophet when he wanted something. She thinks his insanity thing is an act. I have no opinion on that, it’s not for me to decide, but frankly I’m starting to wonder if this guy is ever going to be tried. It’s been six years since his arrest and they haven’t even decided whether he’s competent or not, never mind set a trial date. It doesn’t really matter, I think, as long as he’s locked up forever.

You can read some of Elizabeth’s testimony here.

As for Wanda Barzee, Mitchell’s wife and accomplice, the press has got hold of some letters she wrote to her mom where she speaks of wanting to repent of her sins. But she doesn’t really talk about Elizabeth, only says that both she and Elizabeth were “victims” of Mitchell. She hasn’t been declared competent yet either, but she seems to be on the way there now that they’ve forced her to take antipsychotic drugs.

Additional articles:
The New York Daily News
The Associated Press
The London Daily Telegraph
The Salt Lake Tribune