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Wednesday
May252011

Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Sentenced to Life in Prison

George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Nearly nine years after being kidnapped and held in a state of sexual slavery she describes as "my nine months of hell", Elizabeth Smart addressed her former captor face-to-face in a packed Salt Lake City courtroom, just moments before he was sentenced to life in prison.

Brian David Mitchell, the homeless street preacher convicted of kidnapping Smart, sang a hymn and gently rocked in his chair as Elizabeth's father Ed and then Elizabeth herself took turns addressing him.

"I hope at some time in your life you find what you have done is wrong," said Ed Smart. "Whether during your time on earth or in eternity, you're going to have to face the guilt."

Next, Elizabeth slowly walked to a podium to pick up a microphone before calmly turning to face Mitchell, who continued singing. It was the first time the 23-year-old has directly addressed Mitchell, who did not appear to look at her as she spoke.

"I don't have very much to say to you," Elizabeth Smart began. "I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge. I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now."

"You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned," she continued. "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."

Addressing reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing, Elizabeth appeared relieved.

"Today is the ending of a long chapter and the very beginning of a new chapter," she said, her father standing by her sid.

Last December, Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping Smart.  At Wednesday's sentencing, she had the final word, telling her tormentor and the judge about the horrors she endured.

Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 after Mitchell broke in and took the then 14-year-old from the bedroom she shared with her sister.  For the next nine months, Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, and his accomplice, Wanda Barzee, held her captive.  He claimed she had become his wife and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

In March 2003, two women in Sandy, Utah -- just miles from Smart's home -- called police when they saw a man who they thought looked like Mitchell, whose face they knew from the extensive coverage of the girl's story.  The man was walking with a woman and a girl, all carrying rolled sleeping bags.  When police tracked the trio down, they thought the girl looked like Smart and took them into custody.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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