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SALT LAKE CITY — Brian David Mitchell's behavior outside the courtroom is remarkably different than it is inside, according to a Deputy U.S. Marshal who testified Monday in Mitchell's trial. That Deputy U.S. Marshal said he's spent about 60 to 70 hours with Brian David Mitchell in the past year.
Dennis Durando's assignment includes escorting Mitchell to and from court. On the witness stand Durando said the only time he's ever heard Mitchell sing while simultaneously clasping his hands and closing his eyes is in the courtroom.
He recalled a time on November 1st and 2nd when Mitchell was in the courtroom with only his defense attorney and federal marshals. He said at one point, Mitchell stopped singing and turned his head to scan the room. When he heard the door open, Mitchell turned around and began singing again.
Durando also testified that Mitchell, who watches the trial in another room, typically watches the proceedings, exercises or takes naps.
But Mitchell's behavior during the testimony of Wanda Barzee was notably different. Durando said Mitchell was very attentive, stood as close to the monitor as possible and didn't move.
The prosecution called several other rebuttal witnesses, including several Utah State Hospital employees. A former unit nursing director said she did not think Mitchell was not mentally ill; a psych tech said she thought Mitchell was faking; and a former psych tech said Mitchell spent little time focusing on religion and admitted to him that he sings in court to disrupt it.
Officer testifies about change of character for Mitchell
David Talley testified, "I think he uses his religious stuff as a tool to get what he wants. I think he's a manipulative guy. I don't think he was directed by anyone but himself to do what he did."
One of the officers who found Elizabeth Smart in Sandy testified Monday that Brian David Mitchell became agitated and his character changed once they separated Smart from him.
Officer Troy Rasmussen said on March 12, 2003, he was called to investigate three people who had been seen near 10000 South and State Street. At that time, Mitchell had been featured on "America's Most Wanted" and Smart's family suspected a connection between him and her disappearance.
Rasmussen said Mitchell, who is on trial for allegedly kidnapping Smart, kept answering all of his questions. "I couldn't get an answer from the two female parties because the male party kept interjecting," he said Monday. The officer then decided to separate the three people and police spoke with Smart and Mitchell's wife Wanda Barzee away from Mitchell.
"I observed him become agitated," Rasmussen said of Mitchell. "He started talking to me. He became nervous about what the other two girls were doing."
Mitchell had been previously speaking using archaic, Biblical language. But once the three were separated, the officer said the use of religious terminology stopped.
"It was like he was going in and out of character. He would go in and out depending on whether he was being cornered in my questioning or not," Rasmussen testified. "I believe he was being deceitful and either trying to hide a crime or his identity."
After discovering Smart's true identity, Rasmussen said he mentioned Smart's name and told Mitchell the game was over. "He tried to intimidate me with his body language. He gave me a look like an f-you."
Rasmussen said he told Mitchell as they prepared to take him to jail, "The gig is up. We're not going to believe this. We know who she is. You don't have to preach any more. We're not going to buy this."
During cross examination, the defense questioned why none of Rasmussen's testimony from Monday was included in his police reports. Only one paragraph of Rasmussen's report talked about Mitchell and the rest talked about Smart. But during re-direct, prosecutors said that just because it wasn't in the report doesn't mean that his testimony was incorrect.
Woman testifies Mitchell wanted her for polygamous wife
Earlier Monday, the jury heard from several people who had personal encounters with Mitchell. They described him as calm, smart, and normal.
A former member of the Kingston polygamous group testified about Mitchell's attempts to convince her to become one of his wives.
Julia Atkinson, who left the Kingston group in 1999, testified that she was working at the Fashion Place mall in 2000 when she met Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. Atkinson said she met with them a couple of times, including a four-hour meeting Mitchell planned near the Salt Lake Temple.
"He felt it was time to live it," she said of Mitchell's attempts to marry a second wife. "He felt that I would be a good, I guess, option. That I was supposed to join their family, that it was the right time to start." Atkinson declined his offers. Prosecutors asked her if she had trouble understanding Mitchell and his religious views. She said nothing stood out to her as being too unusual.
"I just looked at him as any other Mormon fundamentalist," she said.
Officer recalls encounter with Mitchell
Salt Lake police officer Robert Randell testified about meeting Mitchell on Sept. 27, 2002. Mitchell had been detained and handcuffed for shoplifting at Albertsons, 370 E. 200 South. Mitchell had taken 52 items, including batteries, flashlights and beer.
When Randell asked Mitchell his name, he said Mitchell replied, "Go with God." When asked for his date of birth, Mitchell said, "Sometime after Christ."
The officer said as he was preparing to take Mitchell to jail, he told Mitchell, "Look, dude, there are two ways we can go with this." He told Mitchell he could be released with a citation if he was truthful about his name, or he could sit in jail for several days until his identity was confirmed. That's when Mitchell gave him his true identify and date of birth.
Randell said he's trained to recognize people with mental illness and officers have a protocols in place. He said he never felt there was a need to invoke such a protocol for Mitchell.
Missionary says Mitchell was polite
Jeremy Clarke was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the San Diego area when he met Mitchell on Dec. 8, 2002. He testified that he met Mitchell at a Lakeside, Calif., meetinghouse. Mitchell, who had a long beard and a ponytail, told the missionary he was interested in investigating the Mormon church.
The missionaries took him to the home of church member Virl Kemp to teach him a missionary lesson.
"He was very well behaved. He was very polite," Clarke said of Mitchell. He told the missionaries during their 45-minute meeting that he was interested in the church and had never read the Book of Mormon.
While she was not present during the discussion, Kemp had a 12-year-old daughter at the time and there were photos of the daughter in the living room. Investigators say Mitchell returned later to the Kemp home in the middle of the night in an apparent plot to kidnap the 12-year-old daughter, but ultimately could not break in and aborted his attempt.
Rebecca Braaten testified that in March of 2003, she was in the parking lot of a wildernesses recreation area when she saw Mitchell with a women and a teenager. She offered them a ride but her suspicions were raised about the young girl, who was wearing a wig and sunglasses.
"It was raining and overcast. There was clearly no reason to wear sunglasses," Braaten testified.
She said Mitchell did all of the talking. He told Braaten the teen was his daughter from a previous marriage, but she said just from looking at the teen's physical features, she knew it wasn't true.
She said she thought, "Clearly this person is hiding something because he's covering up where he's from, his relationship with the girl."
Braaten said she went to police the next day hoping to look through a database of missing children, but they did not have one.
Police officer Kurt Adair testified that on March 11, 2003, he was asked to investigate three suspicious people at a north Las Vegas Burger King. He found them nearby and described Mitchell as "very polite and cooperative" while being questioned.
Mitchell identified himself as Peter Marshall, but had no identification. Adair said he inquired about a kidnapping that had occurred just prior to that date in Michigan. He held up a photo of a missing girl next to Smart, but it obviously was not the kidnapping victim he was looking for and they were allowed to leave.
Five more lay witnesses are expected to testify Monday afternoon. Expert rebuttal witnesses are expected to begin testifying Tuesday to dispute the defense's claim that Mitchell is not guilty by reason of insanity. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball has said from the beginning of the trial that his expectation is to have the trial completed by Friday.
Story compiled with contributions from email@example.com and Sandra Yi