(Photo: Reuters/Michael Brandy)
Elizabeth Smart has said the life sentence given to Brian David Mitchell Wednesday marks the beginning of a new “beautiful chapter” in her life. Mitchell, a former homeless street preacher was sentenced to life in prison for abducting, raping and keeping a 14-year-old Smart captive for nine months in 2002.
Smart, now 23, told reporters outside the courthouse: “As I said during court, and I'll say it again now, I absolutely 100% believe that Brian David Mitchell knew exactly what he was doing when he kidnapped me, and all the events that followed. ... Today is the ending of a very long chapter, and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me.”
Smart has also expressed her determination to dedicate her life to child advocacy to “prevent future kidnapping crimes, sexual crimes against children, against anyone”.
Wednesday’s sentencing coincided with National Missing Children's Day, and Smart’s family marked the day by holding up posters of several children recently abducted.
"I think one of the biggest ways to overcome any trial in life, to heal from any kind of experience, is by helping those around you,” Smart told reporters. “Because by lifting those around you up, you end up lifting yourself up as well.”
Carlie Christensen, U.S. Attorney for Utah spoke to reporters after the sentence and commented: “We believe it is an appropriate, just and long overdue result for our community, for the Smart family and of course, most importantly, Elizabeth.
“Mitchell's heinous conduct, the evidence of his propensity to reoffend mandated such a sentence.”
Earlier during the sentencing hearing Smart was given the opportunity to address Mitchell. She told him: “I don't have very much to say to you. I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge.”
She added: “I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now, that no matter what you do will it affect me again.
“You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned, but in this life or next, you will have to be held responsible for those actions, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes.”