Published May 17, 2011
The defense attorney for Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper filed a motion Tuesday to spare his client a life sentence, arguing that Smart does not appear to be significantly psychological damaged despite Brian David Mitchell kidnapping and sexual assaulting her, Fox13now.com reported.
Robert Steele, Mitchell's attorney, admitted that his client did cause some psychological impact, but “in a legal sense, the story is not the extreme psychological injury. The story is her overcoming the extreme conduct of my client.”
To support the claim, Steele referred to Smart’s testimony, in which she called herself a survivor, the station reported.
Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping Smart, who was 14 at the time, from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. The kidnapping led to eight months of assaults by Mitchell, who would rape the girl numerous times during any given day.
Steele is trying to have Mitchell’s potential life sentence reduced in federal court. Smart’s family is reportedly upset about the defense argument.
However, in federal proceedings, jockeying by defense attorneys to have a client's sentence reduced is par for the course.
James Backman, a law professor at Brigham Young University whose son was one of the prosecutors in the Smart trial, says the defense’s tactic will likely be denied.
“If you’re a defense attorney, you want to make sure every stone was unturned,” he said. “I don’t believe Mitchell should benefit from the strength of this woman.”
Defense attorneys reportedly have tried to show Mitchell has a mental illness. After his insanity plea failed, Mitchell reportedly sang hymns during his guilty verdict. His sentencing is set for May 25.