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Defense Wants Jury Sequestered in Smart Kidnapping Trial

Defense Wants Jury Sequestered in Smart Kidnapping Trial

Posted - Oct. 16, 2004 at 10:29 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Attorneys for the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart have filed a pretrial motion for the jury to be sequestered during the three-week trial in February.

The defense for Brian David Mitchell, 50, argued in a flurry of motions filed Friday that intense media coverage of the case would prejudice jurors against the man.

"Given the media attention to date, it is a virtual certainty that Mr. Mitchell's trial will generate daily stories on every television station and newspaper in the country, if not the world," the motion says.

The defense, headed by attorney Kimberly Clark, also wants Judge Judith Atherton to ban jurors from churches and restaurants, "where they could potentially overhear or be exposed to discussion about this case," and remove Bibles and other religious texts from their hotel rooms "to prevent prejudicial exposure."

Other orders would prevent Elizabeth's family and friends from potentially inflaming the jury's emotions by sitting directly before the panel, showing emotion in the courtroom or wearing "certain clothing, colors or insignias during the trial."

The defense also asked for permission to view, prior to trial, the home Elizabeth was allegedly abducted from at knifepoint, and Mitchell's camp in the foothills above Salt Lake City, where the then-14-year-old girl was held before she was taken to California. Other motions included a request for Mitchell to appear unshackled and in street clothes.

Sequestration is virtually unheard of in Utah, though it's occasionally requested in capital murder and other high-profile cases. Instead, judges typically rely on admonishing jurors to avoid news coverage and refrain from discussing the case.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom said there were no surprises in the motions, and his office was preparing to file responses before the Nov. 15 deadline.

"They are fairly routine motions," Yocom said. "They're nothing we're concerned about."

Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 58, are accused of kidnapping Elizabeth from her home on June 5, 2002, so Mitchell could keep the girl as a second wife. Elizabeth was found with the couple nine months later in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Barzee has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial and is undergoing psychiatric treatment. She is scheduled to be re-evaluated in August.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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