Seven years since she was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom by knifepoint, Elizabeth Smart will be in the same room on Thursday as her alleged kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell.
Smart, now 21, wanted to testify about her nine-month ordeal before she leaves on an 18-month mission to Paris for the Mormon church in early November. Although Mitchell’s latest competency hearing isn’t scheduled until Nov. 30, U.S. District Dale Kimball ruled Monday that Smart could testify early about her interactions with the self-avowed prophet, who allegedly wanted her as a plural wife.
Wants Justice Served
“It’s not something she’s looking forward to, but she wants to see justice served,” says Smart’s father, Ed Smart, who plans to accompany his daughter to court on Thursday. “It’s been frustrating for all of us to see it drag on for so many years. Elizabeth has said to me a number of times, ‘It’s amazing how justice isn’t being served. It’s obvious that he did what he did – there is absolute evidence that he did what he did.'”
Federal defender Robert Steele says he has no problem with Elizabeth testifying, but he argued that the court should not allow her to give her opinion about Mitchell’s sanity. The judge ruled on Monday that “none of Ms. Smart’s proposed testimony suggests that she will be opining on anything other than her lay observations.”
Ed Smart tells PEOPLE he believes that Mitchell is competent and is simply “manipulating the courts to the nth degree.” “There’s been no headway – we’re ready to finally proceed,” he says. “Let’s get this done and move on.”
Mitchell, who allegedly abducted Elizabeth late on the night of June 5, 2002, from the bed she shared with her younger sister, Mary Katherine, has been in and out of court for competency hearings since his arrest with alleged accomplice Wanda Barzee. The pair were found walking with Smart in a Salt Lake City suburb after living for several months in an abandoned trailer in Lakeside, Calif.
Forced to Wear Veil
At previous competency hearings, Mitchell has been removed from the courtroom for disrupting the proceedings by humming and singing religious hymns. Ed Smart hopes the same thing happens this time “so that he won’t be able to see Elizabeth,” he says. “Personally, though, I think he may sit there for a change and not say anything. Whatever happens, Elizabeth is prepared. It’s amazing how strong she is.”
It is expected that Elizabeth, who was forced to wear a white robe and veil and wasn’t allowed to bathe or eat much more than bread during her months held captive, will answer questions from prosecutors and Mitchell’s defense team for several hours.
“She’s ready to tell what she knows and show that Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing,” says her father. “Her comments to me have always been, ‘Dad, there just really isn’t question that he’s guilty of what he did.”