"I thought I was having a nightmare," she testified at the trial of her alleged abductor

By Mike Fleeman
November 08, 2010 04:20 PM
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

The feeling was so powerful that even now, more than eight years later, she struggles to find the words.

Elizabeth Smart took the witness stand Monday in the trial of the man accused of subjecting her to a terrifying nine-month abduction when Smart was 14 years old.

Now 23 years old, Smart described for the jury in a composed voice how Brian David Mitchell put a knife to her throat and kidnapped her from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home in 2002.

“I could feel something cold across my neck,” she said, adding that a man with a “soft but very serious” voice told her to get out of bed. “I thought I was having a nightmare. It was just indescribable fear.”

With the jagged knife pointed at her mid-section, Smart was led down the hallway, past the stairs and then outside before she was instructed to put on her shoes, she said.

“I asked him why he was doing this,” Smart recalled. “He said that he was taking me hostage.”

The man picked up green Army bags that he carried on his shoulder and led Smart down a slope when they suddenly saw a car driving by. He pushed her into a bush, she said.

“What kind of car was it?” asked federal prosecutor Felice Viti.

“It was a police car,” Smart said.

“Did he say anything to you?”

“He said: If this is the work of God then let this police car pass without finding us,” she said. “He told me to stay down, not to move or say a word or I would be killed. When the police car passed, we were within 10 feet.”

As Smart repeatedly prayed for a way to escape, they hiked along a dry streambed and up a mountain where, at the summit as the sun was rising, they met his wife, Wanda Barzee. (Barzee has pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to testify against Mitchell.)

They then continued together to a campsite.

In a tent, Smart was ordered to take off her clothes and put on a robe, she said. As Smart was crying and sitting on a bucket, Mitchelll entered the tent in a similar robe, uttered religious statements ending with, “I take you to be my wife.”

“What did you do when you heard this?” asked Viti.

“I screamed, ‘No,’ ” she said.

Mitchell threatened to put duct-tape on her mouth if she screamed again,

“He forced me off the bucket and into the bed that they had, where he proceeded to fight me to the ground and force the robes off,” she said.

There, Smart said, “He raped me.”

She tried to tell him she was only a girl and fought him off, “but a 14-year-old girl versus a grown man doesn’t even out so much,” Smart said.

Afterwards, she said, “He got up and left the tent and shut the door behind him. He was just sitting out there. I was just inside the tent crying and I ended up crying myself to sleep.”

Mitchell’s attorney said in opening statements that Mitchell believed that God was giving him direct commands – and ordering him to give up his children for adoption, to take multiple wives and to take Smart as his wife.

Reporting by CATHY FREE