Elizabeth Smart's Testimony: Life in Captivity

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Steve C. Wilson / AP

Elizabeth Smart, 23, leaves the courthouse on Nov. 8, 2010, after recounting how she survived nine months as a prisoner of Brian David Mitchell

Taking the witness stand for a second day, Elizabeth Smart provided a riveting account of how she survived nine months as a prisoner of the man on trial, Brian David Mitchell. It was, she told the Salt Lake City jury, a seemingly hopeless life, as Mitchell took his first wife, Wanda Barzee, and his second "wife" Elizabeth — whom he had married in a self-presided ceremony shortly after kidnapping her on June 5, 2002 — on religious wanderings, partly to search for a potential third wife. They dressed in biblical robes, evaded the police, slipped in and out of Salt Lake City from their mountain hideaway and even relocated briefly to Southern California.

During this time, Elizabeth said she was set free from the tether that anchored her to a tree when she was abducted (see Elizabeth Smart's previous testimony). The three took frequent trips to Salt Lake City together — eating at restaurants, attending large house parties, spending time in public parks, staying at people's houses and traveling by public transportation, all done while a massive search for the young girl was under way. Elizabeth's face was plastered on billboards and taped on flyers in shop windows across the Salt Lake valley. Elizabeth said Mitchell showed her articles on the massive search saying that "we were being protected by God [because] they weren't able to find us."

For their trips to Salt Lake City, Mitchell instructed Elizabeth that she needed to stay next to him at all times, that she wasn't to speak to anyone or go anywhere without him. He had already threatened her with death for disobedience several times. Prior to the first trip to Salt Lake City, Elizabeth said, Mitchell told her to remove the remnants of blue toenail polish because there "couldn't be any sort of mark or sign that I was Elizabeth Smart." When people did try to speak with the teenager, Mitchell would step in. Once at a large keg party, a young man approached Elizabeth and tried to talk with her. "It felt very much like he was flirting with me, that he was hitting on me," Elizabeth told the jury. "The defendant came up and said, 'This is my daughter. She can't speak to you.'" Elizabeth was always introduced as the daughter of Barzee and Mitchell, not as his wife. But there was little that was fatherly in the way he treated her, allegedly raping her even while they were guests in the home of one hospitable stranger they met in Salt Lake City.

In the fall of 2002, Mitchell and his wives were nearly discovered. During a visit to a Salt Lake City library, Elizabeth recalled, a homicide detective approached her and asked her to remove the veil that she and Barzee were forced to wear to cover the lower half of their face. Elizabeth and Barzee had just emerged from the restrooms, and Mitchell had not returned yet. "I remember a man approaching us as the defendant was walking back," Elizabeth told the jury. "He introduced himself as a homicide detective. He wanted me to remove the veil so he could see my face. [Barzee's] hand was clenching my leg. I interpreted it to mean 'Don't say anything, don't move.' [The detective] was looking for Elizabeth Smart." When Mitchell returned, he stood between Elizabeth and the detective and calmly explained that removing the veil was not allowed in their religion, that only the girl's husband would be able to see her face.

"I felt helpless walking out the [library] door," Elizabeth said on the stand. "I was mad at myself that I didn't say anything. I felt upset with myself that I hadn't done anything." According to her, Mitchell said that the close encounter was a sign "that the Lord was really protecting us" but that also "it was a sign that it was time for [us] to leave."

Mitchell decided the three had to relocate to the San Diego area to find another wife. He had already made a botched attempt to kidnap one of Elizabeth's cousins on July 24. He wanted a devout Mormon like Elizabeth who was young and thus "still malleable," she said. Mitchell informed Elizabeth that when they found the next wife, Elizabeth would "be the one who would demonstrate everything to [Mitchell's new spouse] — sexual intercourse and its variations."

To prepare for the move to California, Mitchell spent time panhandling for money. "To me it felt fake, but I guess to whomever saw him, he seemed quiet, very genuine, very calm, very sincere in his panhandling," Elizabeth testified. "He wasn't serious. He knew how to manipulate people. That's what he was good at."

In October 2002, the three took a Greyhound bus to California. Elizabeth was instructed once again to stay close to Mitchell, not to speak to anyone and to do exactly what he said or she would be killed. "I felt like I was being sentenced to 20 more years," Elizabeth told the jury. "I felt like the chances of me being found in California had dropped a lot." Upon arriving in San Diego, the three set up camp in an area near the town of Lakeside, which was filled with other homeless encampments. According to Elizabeth, within 24 hours of arriving in California and setting up camp, Mitchell raped her again.

During the stay in California, Elizabeth said she was forced numerous times to look at pornography, was raped by the defendant in his tent and was once left passed out in her own vomit after being forced to drink too much beer. "He said that reflected my true state, lying face down in my vomit," Elizabeth told the jury, her voice growing fatigued. She also explained to the jury that Mitchell was inordinately proud of his genitalia, which he referred to as "Immanuel's pride."

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