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Prosecutors want maximum sentence for Brian David Mitchell

By Pat Reavy | Posted - May 18, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors say Brian David Mitchell, convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and taking her across state lines for the purpose of having sex, should serve the rest of his life in prison.

The government filed a motion Wednesday in federal court to state their position that when Mitchell is sentenced on May 25, he should be given the maximum possible sentence.

What the motion says


The defendant's history and character make clear that he is a danger to the community, and therefore, in order to protect the community, he should be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment.

–government motion


"The defendant’s history and character make clear that he is a danger to the community, and therefore, in order to protect the community, he should be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment," the government filing states. "The evidence further established that the defendant intended to continue kidnapping children to satisfy his deviant sexual desires. … This defendant cannot be released back into society."

Prosecutors state when all factors are considered, a life sentence is "reasonable."

The government's filing comes a day after Mitchell's defense team filed their own pre-sentence papers saying their client should be sent to a federal mental health facility and that Mitchell's mental and physical health needs should be considered.

Federal defense attorney Robert Steele also argued for fewer sentencing enhancements for his client by arguing Smart did not suffer "extreme psychological injury."

According to prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball should look at several penalty enhancement factors when determining a sentence, including Smart's youth and Mitchell's behavior in court.

Smart, who was 14-years old when she was abducted from her bedroom at knifepoint in 2002, was "a vulnerable victim," the government states.

"The defendant knew Ms. Smart was particularly vulnerable to his crimes because of the unusually heinous, cruel, brutal, degrading and humiliating abuse to which he subjected her. The defendant rendered her vulnerable by intentionally creating a climate of fear for her own safety and that of her family," U.S. Attorney for Utah Carlie Christensen wrote in court documents.

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While she was held captive, Smart was subjected to "unrelenting sexual abuse," prosecutors said, making her more vulnerable to the continuing kidnapping.

Prosecutors mention Smart's continuous sexual abuses throughout their motion and say the severity of the abuse she suffered should be taken into consideration.

"For nine months, the defendant subjected Ms. Smart to cruel sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. For nine months, Ms. Smart, a young teenager, was subjected to unusually heinous, cruel, brutal and degrading treatment at the hands of the defendant, which caused great emotional, physical and psychological pain and humiliation," the government stated. "Those nine months can never be recovered."

Mitchell should also receive a penalty enhancement for obstruction of justice, prosecutors contend, "based on the defendant’s efforts to avoid standing trial by creating a false appearance of incompetency."

"For more than seven years, (the) defendant delayed justice and closure to the victim and her family, wasted substantial state and federal resources and denied the public a speedy trial," according to court documents.

Prosecutors say Mitchell, who in court became known for his singing and other outbursts, was able to avoid going to trial, "strategically presenting his 'prophet persona' in settings where his competency was under scrutiny."

Reaction from Mitchell's stepdaughter

Mitchell's stepdaughter said Wednesday she would also like to see Mitchell receive a life sentence.

Rebecca Woodridge says she's forgiven the man who sexually abused her as a young girl. She supported Mitchell during his trial and regularly visits him in jail — she's his only visitor other than his attorneys.

"He's very quiet. He'll either listen or he'll preach a lot," Woodridge said. "He's not mentally stable. He doesn't feel he's done anything wrong at all. He just still feels like he's serving the Lord."

She says Mitchell suffers from frequent seizures — something else his attorneys are asking the judge to consider.

Woodridge wants Mitchell to get a fair punishment but says he'll accept whatever the judge hands down. "In his words,‘For the Lord, yes." It's part of the Lord's will for him," she said.

Woodridge says, if given the opportunity, she would like to speak at Mitchell's sentencing. She hopes the conclusion of this case will allow everyone to move forward and heal.

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Written byPat Reavy with contributions from Sandra Yi.

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Pat Reavy

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