Trial resumes for man charged in Smart abduction

SALT LAKE CITY — Defense attorneys called a string of witnesses today to support an insanity defense for the man charged in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.

Utah State Hospital therapist Gregory Porter testified that he was skeptical about whether defendant Brian David Mitchell was mentally ill when he was first admitted in 2003.

Mitchell spoke freely about his religious revelations and details of the kidnapping — “things he probably shouldn’t have told us,” Porter told jurors.

Porter said he later diagnosed Mitchell as delusional, particularly about religion, and noted that Mitchell sometimes preached to newcomers to the hospital forensic unit.

Mitchell also appeared malleable, leading Porter and doctors to believe he might be helped with medication.

“We thought that with some anti-psychotic medication, we might be able to lower his defenses,” Porter said. “He might be able to proceed with his court case.”

Mitchell’s federal trial on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation charges resumed after a Thanksgiving holiday break. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Attorneys for Mitchell don’t dispute that Smart was abducted and held captive for nine months, but they do contend that the 57-year-old street preacher is mentally ill and can’t be held responsible for the actions.


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