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Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Brian David Mitchell's Family Testifies About Alienation, "Delusions"

Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Brian David Mitchell's Family Testifies About Alienation, "Delusions"
Brian David Mitchell (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart) AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

SALT LAKE CITY (CBS/AP) Defense attorneys for Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint and holding her for nine months, continued to build their insanity defense Wednesday by calling the defendant's family members to testify about his descent into religious fanaticism.

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Mitchell's elderly mother, Irene Mitchell, told jurors that she remembered her son as a "little boy and what a darling little boy he was," but added: "What I see now is not the same person, and what he did was painful."

Mitchell and his now estranged wife Wanda Barzee moved in with Irene Mitchell after they turned to panhandling, but quickly wore out their welcome.

One of Brian David Mitchell's younger sisters, Lisa Holbrook, said her brother began dressing in robes and asked to be addressed by the religious names "Dah-veed," and later "Immanuel," telling family he held a special relationship with God.

Holbrook said she helped their mother obtain a protective order after a physical altercation with Mitchell. Holbrook described how she and Irene Mitchell waited on the street with police as he and Barzee moved out.

"They were yelling hell, fire and damnation to us, my husband and I. When we went inside, they had destroyed all their possessions," Holbrook said.

Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Brian David Mitchell's Family Testifies About Alienation, "Delusions"
Shirl Mitchell, 87, father of Brian David Mitchell (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann) AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann

Mitchell's father, Shirl, testified that he believed his troubled son was alienated "from the time he was probably in the womb." The 87-year-old told jurors that he was hunting deer when Mitchell was born and he believed that Irene Mitchell's resentment of that fact was subliminally transferred to Mitchell, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"Brian's a very intelligent person and used that to its full extent in the harassment of the other children and my wife," the elder Mitchell testified. As he grew older Mitchell found other ways of aggravating his family, including skipping school and not graduating high school, Shirl Mitchell testified according to the paper.

Shirl Mitchell also testified that his son was always "poring over Mormon scriptures" and became a "zealot and rabid about" the LDS Church, which "led to these delusions that he was Immanuel," according to the Tribune.

Late Wednesday the judge denied the defense's motion to acquit Mitchell of all charges on the grounds that the prosecution had not met their burden of proof.

Smart, now 23, has testified that she was forced to enter a polygamous marriage with Mitchell, endured nearly daily rapes, was forced to use drugs and alcohol and was taken against her will from Utah to California for about four months.

Defense attorneys have not disputed the facts of the case - Smart's abduction on June 5, 2002, or her nine months in captivity - but they contend that Brian David Mitchell suffers from mental illness and can't be held responsible for his alleged crimes.