Elizabeth Smart, 21, took the witness stand in a Utah federal court yesterday and – for the first time since her 2002 abduction and nine months of captivity – talked publicly about living in the woods and on the road with Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Smart’s testimony was part of a hearing on whether Mitchell, who has been diagnosed with a delusional disorder, is mentally competent to stand trial for her kidnapping.
Ed Smart, Elizabeth’s father, said her vivid account should leave no doubt that Mitchell is competent. “If this doesn’t clinch the issue of competency, our nation is in very, very big difficulty,” he said. Court officials said that they had received coverage requests from about 30 news organizations, among them leading national and international print and television news networks. The Tribune inadvertently violated the judge’s order and e-mailed material about the hearing from the courtroom; said Terry Orme, an editor: “If the courts are going to be open to the public, these new media technologies are going to have to be addressed.”