SALT LAKE CITY - Elizabeth Smart says she was thrilled with the two life sentences given to the man who kidnapped her from the bedroom of her Utah home nearly nine years ago.

Smart said at a news conference yesterday after the hearing that she fully believes street-preacher David Brian Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing when he abducted and raped her, despite arguments by his lawyers for years that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

She said the sentencing, which came on National Missing Children's Day, marks the end of a long chapter in her life, as well as a beautiful new beginning.

She said she wants to work to help bring other missing children back to their families and see the abductors brought to justice.

In the courtroom, she addressed Mitchell: "I know that you know what you did is wrong. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned," she said.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball handed down two life sentences for Mitchell, 57, at the hearing in Salt Lake City. A jury earlier in December unanimously convicted Mitchell of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

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

Smart, now 23, 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.

Within hours of the kidnapping, she testified, she was stripped of her favorite red pajamas, draped in white, religious robes and forced into a polygamous marriage with Mitchell. She was tethered to a metal cable strung between two trees and subjected to near-daily rapes while being forced to use alcohol and drugs.

The disappearance and a massive search to find the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl riveted the nation, as did her improbable recovery while walking with her captor on a suburban Salt Lake City-area street on March 12, 2003.

Smart, who described her captor as vulgar and self-serving, testified that she believed Mitchell was driven by his desire for sex, drugs and alcohol, not by any sincere religious beliefs.