Elizabeth Smart Faces Gentle Cross-Examination

As she completes her testimony, the defense suggests her alleged kidnapper suffers mental illness

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; AP

Taking the stand for a third day, a calm and poised Elizabeth Smart finished her testimony for the prosecution Wednesday and then was questioned for only 15 minutes by a lawyer for alleged kidnapper Brian David Mitchell.

Suggesting that Mitchell suffered from mental illness, defense attorney Robert Steele asked Smart about Mitchell’s frequent singing and praying during the nine months she was abducted when she was 14 years old.

Smart was also asked about the night in 2002 when she said Mitchell took her at knifepoint from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home.

“Is it possible at that time he said, ‘I don’t want to have to hurt you and your family?’ Is it possible those were his words?”

“Possible,” Smart told the jury in federal court in Salt Lake City.

“You heard him say, “I will kill you at other times?”

“Yes,” replied Smart.

After this, there were no further questions by the defense. Smart stepped off the stand to rejoin her parents.

The prosecution will now call 19 more witnesses, including the police officers who found Smart with Mitchell in a Salt Lake City suburb in March 2003, and an FBI agent who questioned Mitchell extensively after his arrest.

The defense, seeking an insanity verdict, is expected to call more than two dozen witnesses, from psychiatrists who have examined Mitchell to his former common-law wife, Wanda Barzee, who has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

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