(Photo: STR New/Reuters)
Elizabeth Smart will speak at the sentencing hearing of former street preacher, David Mitchell today, nearly nine years after she was kidnapped, raped and taken captive by him.
A federal jury convicted Mitchell on Dec. 10, of kidnapping and raping Smart, and he now faces a potential life sentence when the hearing is held Wednesday afternoon.
Smart recently returned from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in France with her family. She has said that she feels it is not up to her to decide whether a life sentence will be a just punishment for Mitchell.
She said, “When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the judge thinks. And so I can only hope and pray that the right thing will happen.
“Whether he gets his just punishment here, it will come one day."
Defense attorneys caused outrage as they claimed Smart is a "survivor" and has not been significantly damaged psychologically by her abduction.
The prosecution however has asked for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The story is one that has horrified the world. When Elizabeth Smart was just 14 she was snatched from her bedroom at knifepoint. She was then held captive for nine months by Mitchell, who spent his time as a homeless street preacher, and his wife, Wanda Barzee.
During the trial it has emerged that Mitchell forced her to "marry" him in a polygamous union.
Elizabeth’s father, Ed Smart has agreed with defense attorneys that his daughter is truly a "survivor." She has recovered from her terrifying ordeal to take a college degree, and has also launched "The Elizabeth Smart Foundation" - a non-profit that will help victims of child abuse and crime.
Her father told: “I thank the Lord that Elizabeth is doing so well and that she's able to move beyond this. But the bottom line comes down to, Mitchell has a significant problem. I truly believe that if he got out again, that he would do the same thing.”