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SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL is looking back at the most impactful stories of 2011. Not all victims are able to find closure after they've been attacked. But, after nine years, Elizabeth Smart is able to find just that.
The images outside of the Federal Courthouse are unforgettable. Reporters inside the courtroom holding up flash cards against the windows with only the word "LIFE" written on them. Even Brian David Mitchell's attorney, Parker Douglas, said the sentence was what he expected.
"I think anybody who watched this case just came away with immense respect for the [Smart] family," he said.
Mitchell's stepdaughter, Rebecca Woodridge, said she's happy that Smart was able to get justice. But, she also said Mitchell believes he didn't do anything wrong and that he believes he was only doing what God told him to do.
"He doesn't feel that he will spend the rest of his life in prison because he feels that the Lord will intervene and this world will not be around in 30 years," she explained.
Nevertheless, outside of the Federal Courthouse, Elizabeth Smart's joy at the sentence was obvious.
"I am so thrilled with the results that came out today, the life sentence. I couldn't be happier," she said.
While Mitchell's attorneys contend that Mitchell is not fully aware of the impact of his actions, Smart feels otherwise.
"I absolutely, 100 percent, believe that Brian David Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing when he kidnapped me and all of the events that followed," she said.
I want you to know that I have a wonderful life now. No matter what you do, you will never affect me again.
–Elizabeth Smart to Brian David Mitchell
During a victim impact statement for Mitchell's sentencing, Smart looked right at her convicted kidnapper and said, ""I don't have very much say to you. I know exactly what you did, and I know that you know what you did was wrong and you did it with a full knowledge of that."
She added, "I want you to know that I have a wonderful life now. No matter what you do, you will never affect me again."
"I told Brian David Mitchell, today, in court, that whether he received his just sentence here on earth or after this earth-life, that one day he will have to be responsible for his actions," she said.
Mitchell looked away from Smart while she said it, singing to himself. Smart didn't care. She was just happy this part of her life is over.
"Today is the ending of a very long chapter and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me," she said.
What is her next chapter? Smart says she plans to continue being an advocate for children. She feels the best way to overcome adversity is to help those around you.