SALT LAKE CITY - A jury yesterday began deliberating the fate of a nomadic street preacher charged with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, after hearing federal prosecutors call him a "predatory chameleon" and defense lawyers say he's too delusional to be convicted.
The facts of the case aren't disputed: Even attorneys for Brian David Mitchell say there's no question their client kidnapped Smart from her Utah bedroom when she was 14 and raped her almost daily until she was found months later, walking a suburban street with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Barzee.
Defense attorney Robert Steele told jurors yesterday that Mitchell's actions were colored by long-standing delusional beliefs, and that the jury should find him not guilty by reason of insanity, sending him to a federal prison where he would receive treatment for mental illness.
Steele said that even though Mitchell held Smart in "abominable conditions," jurors must consider his mental state.
"You do not have a good man here," Steele said. "You have a guy that's not very likable, but you still need to consider."
During the trial, Mitchell was removed daily from the courtroom for singing hymns and disrupting proceedings.