SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart waited more than eight years for the word she heard Friday.
"Guilty," the court clerk said, after a federal jury deliberated five hours to convict street preacher Brian David Mitchell of snatching Smart from her bed, at knifepoint in the dead of night, and forcing sex on her while he held her captive for nine months.
Smart smiled as the verdict was read, while a bedraggled, bearded Mitchell sat at the defense table, singing hymns with his hands before his chest, as if in prayer.
Smart, now 23, flew back from her Mormon mission in Paris to take the stand, and recount her "nine months of hell."
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Smart described in detail how she woke up one night to the feel of a cold, jagged knife at her throat and being whisked away by Mitchell to his camp in the foothills near Salt Lake City.
Within hours of the kidnapping, she testified, she was forced into a polygamous marriage with him. She was tethered to a metal cable and subjected to near-daily rapes while being forced to use alcohol and drugs.
The five-week trial turned on the question of Mitchell's mental health.
His lawyers did not dispute that he kidnapped Smart but wanted him to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Such a verdict would have sent him to a prison mental hospital.
Jurors did not buy the insanity defense, finding him guilty of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of illegal sex. The sex charge was based on Mitchell taking Smart for five of the nine months to California.
Mitchell could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced on May 25. However, a judge also could impose an unspecified, lesser sentence, prosecutors said.