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Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Defense Asks Judge for Acquittal

Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Defense Asks for Acquittal
Brian David Mitchell (AP Photo) file,AP Photo

SALT LAKE CITY (CBS/AP) Defense attorneys for Brian David Mitchell, the man charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart in 2002 and holding her captive for nine months, filed a motion Tuesday asking the judge to acquit their client of all charges, claiming that the prosecution had failed to meet their burden of proof.

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In particular, defense attorneys contend prosecutors failed to prove the count relating to unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sexual activity. In court papers, Mitchell's attorneys said that sex was incidental to the trip made to California during Smart's nine months of captivity. Smart was 14 at the time of the abduction.

"To put it bluntly, Mr. Mitchell had no need of traveling outside of Utah for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with Ms. Smart," the defense wrote.

The judge did not immediately rule on the motion.

Just before filing the acquittal motion, Mitchell's attorneys called three witnesses who know Mitchell before the kidnapping, and began building their case Tuesday, painting a picture of a deeply religious man who became increasingly inflexible and lost in his own beliefs.

Elizabeth Smart Trial Update: Brian David Mitchell's Defense Asks for Acquittal, Saying Prosecution didnâ??t Meet Burden of Proof
Elizabeth Smart (George Frey/Getty Images) Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Mitchell has been kicked out of court every day of the trial so far for singing hymns in court. On Tuesday Doug Larsen, who worked with Mitchell at a local jewelry-maker in the early 1990s, told the jury that singing is how Mitchell copes with situations he doesn't like.

PICTURES: Elizabeth Smart

Larsen said that when music or conversations became bothersome, Mitchell sang hymns at his desk until reprimanded. Larsen, who shared Mitchell's more rigid approach to following the Mormon faith, said Mitchell was viewed as a fanatic by some and that he was "very confident to the point of being dogmatic and being inflexible in his point of view."

"His religion was always behind everything he said," Larsen testified.

Larsen said he grew worried when his friend began talking about lymphology, a system of treating the lymphatic system to promote wellness, and that Mitchell hoped it would relieve a dependency on medications to treat mental illness, primarily for Mitchell's now estranged wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.

Larsen testified that after Mitchell quit the jewelry company in 1994 the two lost touch but that he heard Mitchell had taken to wearing robes, grew his hair out and had been seen panhandling in downtown Salt Lake City.

It was that version of Mitchell that Karl West and his brother Benjamin West, told jurors they remember from the years Mitchell lived and worked with their father, naturopath and lymphology expert C. Samuel West, beginning in the mid-1990s.

Karl West testified that Mitchell sometimes lived in a teepee in the family's backyard and asked to be called "Immanuel."

"I think he sincerely felt, believed that he was who he tried to claim he was," Karl West said.

Arguments over Mitchell's pursuit of "false doctrine," including polygamy, ended the relationship, the brothers said. When he last appeared at the West home, Mitchell stood on the sidewalk yelling that it would be "leveled and destroyed," Karl West said.

"I'd never seen him like that. He was off his rocker," Karl West said.

The defense expects to call Mitchell's parents, Irene and Shirl Mitchell, Wednesday.