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Defense: Insanity Led to Smart’s Abduction and Rape

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2010 | Sexual Assault |

The previous post covered the defense’s recent failed attempt to have the Elizabeth Smart abduction and sexual assault case moved out of Utah. A Denver court of appeals rejected the request, and the trial therefore has resumed in Utah. Yesterday marked the second day in which Smart testified before the court and told her story.

The defense in this case also has a story to tell. And it is a story that reportedly does not challenge the actions that Smart describes. According to trial reports, defense has told the court that it has “virtually no disagreement as to what happened,” when it comes to Smart’s account of her kidnapping. The “what” of the case, however, is not the focus of the defense’s argument. Rather, the “why” is its key to Mitchell’s justice.

Based on the previous post’s point that open mindedness among jurors regarding the defendant’s actions is what’s important, the fact that the defense is highlighting the “why” behind the case could be a wise move. The jury has already heard the defense’s claims that Mitchell has a family history of mental illness and that he has suffered from mental illness himself since he was a teen. Mitchell allegedly believed that he was a prophet and was acting according to directions given to him by God, who told him he needed to make a young wife of Smart.

During the jury selection process, potential jurors answered questions that would help both legal teams create a fair, balanced jury. In the questionnaires, candidates addressed whether they thought insanity could have been a factor in the case against Mitchell. Those who indicated that they were absolutely opposed to that theory were those that the defense wouldn’t want on the jury. As part of the selection process, the defense was allowed to reject those candidates as jurors.

Sources argue that those who believed that insanity is a possible defense are fair candidates to have on the Utah jury, which means Mitchell is currently in the midst of a fair trial. The abduction and sex assault on a child case could end justly for Mitchell as long as jurors who’ve indicated that they can separate the crimes from the reasons behind the defendant’s actions actually follow through with such critical thinking.


The Salt Lake Tribune: “Analysis: Smart kidnap jurors met standards,” Sheena McFarland, 6 Nov. 2010