crimesider

Elizabeth Smart Kidnap Suspect Booted from Court Every Day for Singing Hymns

The man charged in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart is finally headed to trial, after years of delays caused by questions about his mental health and a jump from state to federal court.
file,AP Photo
Elizabeth Smart Kidnap Suspect Booted from Court Every Day for Singing Hymns
Brian David Mitchell in court May 24, 2005, in Salt Lake City.(AP Photo/Al Hartmann)

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) It appears that Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart, may be the only person who doesn't want to hear what his alleged victim has to say - at least not face-to-face.

PICTURES: Elizabeth Smart

Mitchell has spent most of every day of his federal kidnapping trial in a holding cell, watching Smart, her mother Lois and her sister Mary Katherine, testify on a closed-circuit television, because he refuses to stop singing hymns in court.

Mitchell's defense team has made no secret of their strategy to have their client declared not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming in their opening statements that Mitchell was influenced by an escalating mental illness and extreme religious beliefs that made him think he was doing what God wanted him to do.

The singing isn't exactly new. He has reportedly sung his way through every court appearance since December 2004, according to CNN. Now, during his federal trial on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, the singing of hymns and getting kicked out of court has become a daily routine between the judge and Mitchell.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball brings the jury in, asks Mitchell to stop singing, telling him that he has the right to stay in the court, but that if he continues to disrupt the court he will be ejected, The Salt Lake City Tribune reported. Kimball then waits a few minutes before ejecting Mitchell, who leaves the same way he came in, singing with his hands folded as if in prayer.

According to court records, he stops singing the moment he enters a room equipped with audio and video feeds that allow him to view the trial, CNN reported.

Prosecutors say Mitchell broke into the Smart home June 5, 2002 by cutting a screen on a kitchen window. He then held a knife to Smart's throat and whispered threats that made her get out of her bed; he then held her for 9 months and raped her repeatedly. Mitchell faces life in prison if convicted.

The trial is not in session today, due to Veterans Day, and will continue on Monday.

COVERAGE OF ELIZABETH SMART ON CRIMESIDER