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Smart trial prosecutors begin final arguments

December 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Federal prosecutors began making their closing arguments Thursday in the trial against the man accused of kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart in 2002, when she was 14.In its fifth week, the trial entered its final stage before a jury gets the case. Jurors will have to decide whether Brian David Mitchell, 57, a street preacher, is guilty. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Though Mitchell's attorneys don't dispute the facts of the crime, they say he is mentally ill and can't be held liable.

Jurors could also find him not guilty by reason of insanity, but prosecutors argue that Mitchell is faking mental illness to avoid prosecution.

During the trial, Mitchell was often removed from the courtroom for singing hymns and disrupting proceedings. Last week, he had a seizure in the holding room where he watches the trial on TV. He spent several hours at a hospital before being returned to a jail.

Prosecutors told jurors that Mitchell acted deliberately when he kidnapped Smart from her home at knifepoint in the middle of the night and threatened her life if she cried out for help. They also contend Mitchell was deliberate when he forced Smart into a polygamous marriage, raped her daily and held her captive for nine months, hiding her behind long robes, a head scarf and veil and a religious name.

Smart was found March 12, 2003, walking a suburban street with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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