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Elizabeth Smart kidnapping suspect gets life in prison

  • Brian David Mitchell is escorted into the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Salt Lake City. Nearly nine years after she was taken at knifepoint, raped and held captive, Elizabeth Smart is set to publicly confront her kidnapper for the first time, when Mitchell is sentenced. ((AP Photo/Jim Urquhart))

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly nine years after she was abducted at knifepoint from her bed, Elizabeth Smart watched Wednesday without showing any emotion as a federal judge ordered a street preacher to spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping and raping her while holding her captive for months.

The sentencing of Brian David Mitchell closed a major legal chapter in the heartbreaking ordeal that stalled for years after Mitchell was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court.

"I know that you know what you did is wrong," Smart told Mitchell as he sang quietly in the courtroom. "You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned."

Dressed in a hounds-tooth checked skirt, ivory jacket and pearls, Smart took the witness stand for only about 30 seconds and confronted Mitchell in court for the first time.

She appeared poised and composed, speaking in even tones.

"I have a wonderful life," she said. "You will never affect me again."

After the hearing Smart smiled and hugged family members and her lawyers. She later said she was thrilled with the sentence.

Mitchell did not respond when U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball handed down two life sentences at the hearing in Salt Lake City. Federal sentencing rules do not allow parole.

A jury unanimously convicted the 57-year-old Mitchell in December of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

With long hair and beard, he looked frail and thin in court. He sang throughout the proceedings, even when the judge asked if he wanted to speak.

The defense waived its closing remarks before sentencing.

Smart was 14 when she was snatched from the bedroom of her family home in Salt Lake City. Wednesday was the first time she faced her kidnapper in court; he was removed from the trial for singing hymns when she testified.

Now 23, she testified in excruciating detail about waking up in the early hours of June 5, 2002, to the feel of a cold, jagged knife at her throat and being whisked away by Mitchell to his camp in the foothills near the family home.

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