News / Utah / 

Judge denies motion to acquit in Mitchell case

Judge denies motion to acquit in Mitchell case

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball has denied a motion by the defense attorneys for Brian David Mitchell to acquit their client because prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mitchell took Elizabeth Smart across state lines for the purpose of having sex.


In their motion, the defense had argued that Mitchell's primary intention of going to California from Utah in the late fall of 2002 was to go to a place with warmer weather and to find additional wives. He had already raped Smart numerous times in Utah and didn't need to go to California to continue that, the defense argued.

Prosecutors argued that sex was just one of many reasons Smart was illegally taken to California. Mitchell perceived Smart to be his "wife," and among her wifely duties was to have sex with him, which she would be expected to do in California, they argued.

"The government has presented sufficient evidence for a rational juror to conclude that illicit sexual activity was one of the efficient and compelling purposes of (Mitchell's) transportation of Elizabeth Smart from Utah to California," Kimball wrote in his decision.

Smart was raped within the first 24 hours of arriving in California. Kimball said based on Smart's testimony last week, it is reasonable to assume Mitchell wanted to go to California, in part, to prevent Smart from being discovered and went to great lengths to hide her identity.

"It is reasonable to infer that he wanted to avoid detection so the abuse would continue," the judge wrote. "It is not necessary for the government to prove that the sexual activity was the sole or primary purpose for transporting Ms. Smart from Utah to California."

Kimball noted that the defense's arguments "are more appropriate for closing arguments to the jury than for a judgment of acquittal at this stage of the proceedings."

Related stories

Related topics

Pat Reavy


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast