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Team CoverageThe man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart has been found incompetent to stand trial. That means Brian David Mitchell will remain in the state mental hospital indefinitely. It’s possible this is the end of the Elizabeth Smart case, a tremendous story that started with her kidnapping about 3 years ago. It’s also possible Brian David Mitchell could stand trial sometime in the future, dragging out this legal process even longer.
He sang hymns and shouted about repentance during his competency hearings, leading many to wonder if Brian David Mitchell was trying to manipulate the court system
David Yocom, District Attorney: “From the state's point of view, he was competent. That these were not delusions, but beliefs he held, rather quirky if you will, but not delusional."
But after several months of psychological analysis, Judge Judith Atherton decided Mitchell's religious beliefs are delusional. Her conclusion states Mitchell may understand the charges against him and possible penalties, but he does not have the capacity to work with his attorneys.
Kent Morgan, State Prosecutor: “That was not our opinion. We were disappointed but this is still a case where evidence must be presented over time to see if he can maintain the aura of a delusional disorder."
Mitchell's mental state will be reevaluated while he is in the state hospital. Prosecutors believe they will be able to show he is competent during that time. But that could take more than a year and could potentially hurt the state's case.
Kent Morgan: “Delay is never good for justice. The longer a case is delayed, the more difficulties arise because of lapses in memories and things of that nature."
And just as with his wife, Wanda Barzee, the state mental hospital could determine Mitchell needs medication. It could ask the court to forcefully medicate him, in that case a hearing will be held. Of course, all of this prolongs the judicial process, but the judge's ruling today came as a relief to the Smart family.
Ed Smart heard about the ruling from prosecutors this morning. He's satisfied with what it means for his daughter and for Brian David Mitchell.
Ed Smart: "She's had a great summer, and I couldn't be happier with the way she's doing."
The past is just that for Elizabeth Smart and her family.
Ed Smart: "We're moving on with life."
In fact, Elizabeth is traveling from Ireland, where she attended an international harp conference with her mother and sister. But she has strong opinions about Brian David Mitchell.
Ed Smart: "I know that she never wants to have him see the light of day."
Ed and Lois Smart sat in on one proceeding and witnessed Mitchell's outburst. Ed Smart says if it was an act, he didn't buy it.
Ed Smart: "I think he knows darn well what he's doing in there. I think that he certainly has not been cooperative, but I do believe that there's something crazy about him."
The Smarts feared the case would go to trial and Elizabeth would have to testify. Their fear is now replaced by a sense of relief. Ed Smart: "It puts off Elizabeth having to go in and testify, which of course, I think any parent wouldn't want to see that."
Still, Ed Smart says his daughter will do whatever it takes to keep Brian David Mitchell off the streets.
Ed Smart: "We'd certainly do everything in our power. Elizabeth will go to testify or whatever we need to, to make sure he does not get hold of another girl again."
Ed and Lois Smart chose not to attend most of the hearings. Ed Smart says they've wasted enough time on Mitchell and they don't want to waste any more time on him unless their efforts land him behind bars.