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Note to Readers • Readers should be aware that Elizabeth Smart's testimony contains graphic depictions of sexual abuse.
Elizabeth Smart on Monday gave an unflinching account of herself as a 14-year-old girl who, after being kidnapped and raped, quickly arrived at a decision that ensured her survival.
Now 23, Elizabeth testified that within hours of being abducted from her bed on June 5, 2002, Brian David Mitchell marched her at knife-point to a mountain campsite above her Salt Lake City home, consummated a hasty "marriage" ceremony, tethered her like an animal between two trees, and promised several times to kill her and her family if she tried to escape.
Despite the threats, Elizabeth said she initially decided to try and flee.
The rape had left Elizabeth bleeding and feeling desolate. No matter what, she said, she didn't want to spend another day as a "plural wife" to the 48-year-old homeless street preacher and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
"I felt like because [of] what he had done to me that I was marked, that I wasn't clean, wasn't pure, wasn't worth the same," Elizabeth testified. "I felt like another person would never love me. Yeah, I felt like I could take the risk of being killed and try to escape."
But then, Elizabeth said, she thought of her family and realized they would always love her no matter what Mitchell did.
At that moment, Elizabeth abandoned any thought of escape and formed a strategy that would see her safely reunited with her parents and five siblings nine months later.
"No matter what it took, I would live," Smart testified. "I would survive and do everything he told me to do to keep my life and my family's life intact."
She said she decided to reduce the "danger and threat" as much as possible. That included mimicking the self-proclaimed prophet's belief that he was called by God to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
But when the devout Mormon girl who had never even dated a boy made that pact with herself, she had no idea of the horrors yet to come.
That night, Mitchell did not rape her again, but "ran his hands all over my body," she testified.
The next morning, Elizabeth said Mitchell ordered her to get naked "like Adam and Eve in the Garden," and told her to "watch and learn" while he and Barzee, then 56, demonstrated sexual intercourse.
"Then he proceeded to rape me," Elizabeth testified.
Mitchell also forced her to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, she said.
Her first alcoholic drink was wine Mitchell brought back from a sojourn down the mountain to Salt Lake City about 10 days after the kidnapping. She said Mitchell blessed the wine and presented it as a sacrament, but then forced Elizabeth to drink a full mug.
Thereafter, Mitchell began leaving camp three to four times a week and brought back a variety of hard liquors, she said.
Elizabeth said the alcohol dulled her senses. But she said that on July 5, she welcomed the booze and even refrained from eating that day so it would act more strongly.
"I didn't want to be sober for what was coming," Elizabeth testified.
The night before, she, Mitchell and Barzee had climbed a ridge top to watch the July 4th fireworks. Back at camp, Mitchell informed Elizabeth that "the time had come for oral sex," she testified. She would be expected to perform it on him the next day.
Once again, Mitchell and Barzee gave a demonstration to the girl. But before Elizabeth submitted, Mitchell tried to kiss her and she bit his tongue.
"He said if I did that again, he would never have sex with me again and I'd be the most miserable woman in the world," Elizabeth recalled.
The jury of five women and nine men listened with rapt attention as Elizabeth who exchanged an occasional smile with her parents, Ed and Lois Smart testified almost matter-of-factly of her ordeal. Her composure faltered slightly when she began speaking of her initial rape by Mitchell, and again as she broached the subject of oral sex.
By the end of Monday's testimony, Elizabeth had gotten only about five weeks into her story, which will include a trip to California as Mitchell's captive. She is expected to take the witness stand in U.S. District Court again Tuesday morning.
Elizabeth's testimony was preceded by those of her mother and younger sister, Mary Katherine.
As Assistant U.S. Attorney Felice Viti took Elizabeth and the others through their testimonies, he asked about Mitchell's manner of speech, demeanor and ability to function rationally. The questions were designed to refute the defense strategy of trying to convince jurors that Mitchell is not guilty by reason of insanity of charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity.
Defense attorney Parker Douglas during his opening statement Monday said he does not dispute the "horrifyingly disturbing" facts of Elizabeth's ordeal. He also used the word "crazy" several times in describing Mitchell, 57.
Elizabeth testified she learned from Mitchell and Barzee that her kidnapping had been planned since the previous fall, when Mitchell was hired to do odd jobs around the Smarts' Federal Heights home.
Mitchell also had "scouted" her home a few nights before the abduction, Elizabeth said.
He entered by cutting a kitchen window screen, then awakened Elizabeth by putting a knife to her throat and speaking with "a soft but very serious" voice.
"I was immediately wide awake," Elizabeth testified. "I knew how deadly the situation was. I was extremely scared. I got up and did what [the voice] said."
As Mitchell ordered Elizabeth to grab her running shoes, he told her he was taking her "hostage for ransom." Outside, as they walked through the Smarts' backyard and across an unused lot to a street, he pushed her down behind a bush as a police cruiser headed their way.
"He said, 'This is the work of God. Let this police car pass without finding us.' " Elizabeth testified.
As they began climbing a trail into the foothills, Mitchell kept the knife to Elizabeth's back. Elizabeth said when she asked Mitchell if he realized what he was doing, he replied he did.
"And I remember saying that if he let me go right now, that we wouldn't press charges on him," Elizabeth testified. "He said he knew exactly what he was doing and that he understood the consequences of his actions."
When they arrived at Mitchell's camp, Barzee apparently was expecting them.
"Her arms were open. She grabbed me into her arms and hugged me," Elizabeth said.
The camp was designed to handle a captive.
Elizabeth said she was tethered by her ankle to a stationary cable strung between two trees. The cables had been measured such that she could just reach a bucket used as a toilet at one end of the camp, and also sleep in the tent with Mitchell and Barzee, now 64.
Elizabeth testified that as Mitchell attached the cable to her ankle, she promised not to run away.
"He said he was just going to take away the temptation of running away from him," she said.
firstname.lastname@example.org Editor's note • Readers should be aware that Elizabeth Smart's testimony contains graphic depictions of sexual abuse.