Day 3 of Mitchell Trial: Smart tells how she was hidden in plain sight

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Elizabeth Smart continued her account on the witness stand Tuesday, detailing her nine agonizing months in the clutches of Brian David Mitchell. She gave a stunning account of their close encounter with a police detective seven months before her rescue.

Mitchell once again was removed from the court for singing before Elizabeth resumed her testimony at 8:44 a.m. She said Mitchell gave her a name - Shurjesha -- that meant "a remnant will return." She said Mitchell allowed her to pick her own name but it had to be from the Bible. She chose Esther.

Elizabeth testified Mitchell made her refer to him and his wife, Wanda Barzee, as Mom and Dad and asked her to talk less about her real parents. She said Mitchell made her burn her pajamas and get rid of anything that tied her to her family. She testified that she kept a few small items from her clothes and tennis shoes, but was forced to throw them away when Mitchell found them.

Detective nearly found Smart at Salt Lake City Library

Elizabeth went on to recount numerous occasions when she was almost discovered. She testified that a Salt Lake City police officer approached her, Mitchell and Barzee outside the Salt Lake City Library.

"He said he was looking for Elizabeth Smart," she said.

Under the table, Barzee squeezed Elizabeth's leg -- a sign, she said, that she should remain quiet.

Elizabeth said the officer almost lifted her veil but stopped when Mitchell yelled at him and told him in their religion only the husband could look at his wife's face.

The detective pressed.

"He asked if he could be a part of our religion for a day, just so he could see my face, just so he could go back (to the police station) and say, 'no it wasn't Elizabeth Smart'," she said.

I was mad at myself, that I didn't say anything. I felt terrible that the detective hadn't pushed harder and had just walked away.

–- Elizabeth Smart

Mitchell remained cool and calm, stating again firmly that it would not be allowed. The detective gave up and left, Elizabeth said.

"I was mad at myself that I didn't say anything," she said. "I felt terrible that the detective hadn't pushed harder and had just walked away."

Elizabeth describes parties she was taken to

The encounter came in early fall, weeks after Mitchell and Barzee first brought Elizabeth with them into the city -- essentially hiding her in plain sight but keeping her under Mitchell's control with threats on her life.

"He told me that I needed to stay next to him at all times and that if I tried to run away, I would be killed," Elizabeth said, describing her first venture into the city.

She said Mitchell took her to a noisy, "rave-type" party he was invited to by a grocery store employee he had befriended.

"There was a lot of drinking and drugs," she said, adding that she could smell cigarettes and marijuana burning.

Elizabeth said Mitchell was also forced to drink a liquid laced with the hallucinogenic absinthe.

Mitchell also became very territorial when the grocery clerk, Daniel Trotta, tried to talk to her, Smart said.

"He said, 'This is my daughter and she can't talk to you,'" she said.

The trip was the first of many -- Mitchell essentially hiding a white-robed Smart, whose face was hidden behind the veil, in plain sight, keeping her quiet with threats.

The trip from San Diego, then back to Utah

Following the library incident, Elizabeth says Mitchell was anxious to leave the state and head to California. She testified Mitchell said they couldn't fly because it was too expensive and they would need identification. He decided the best way to travel was by bus. Elizabeth said, "I felt like I was being sentenced to 20 more years," when she boarded the Greyhound.

It wasn't until March of 2003 that Elizabeth would be freed. That month, Elizabeth, Mitchell and Barzee had just hitchhiked back to Utah from San Diego.

Police officers stopped them as they left a Walmart store in Sandy. Elizabeth said even when the officers asked if she was Elizabeth Smart, she gave them a different name as Mitchell ordered her to do.

She said the officers put her in the back of the police car in handcuffs. She was scared, thinking she had done something wrong, but also thought, "This is it. This is over."

At the police station, when her father arrived, Elizabeth said, "I was so happy."

Elizabeth will be back on the stand Wednesday.


Story compiled with contributions from Andrew Adams, Sandra Yi, and the Associated Press.


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