The trial of the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart finally began this week inside a Salt Lake City federal courtroom. The case that has drawn national attention for years started with Elizabeth herself, now 23, testifying and recalling graphic details of her abduction for three straight days on the witness stand.
In an opening statement, Brian David Mitchell's lawyer told jurors the man known as "Emmanuel" was influenced by an escalating mental illness and extreme religious beliefs. Mitchell is on trial on kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor charges after allegedly abducting Smart from her Federal Heights bedroom on June 4, 2002, when she was 14.
On Monday, Smart told jurors how she was awakened with a cold knife on her neck. She said she initially thought her abduction was a nightmare.
Tuesday, Smart told jurors how a Salt Lake City police detective tried to see behind her veil but backed down when Mitchell told the officer her face was hidden for religious reasons. Nearly six months later, Smart was so terrified of her abductor that on the day police found her, she told them she was someone else.
On her final day of testimony, Smart told jurors on Wednesday that Mitchell was a crude, vulgar, self-serving person who used religion to justify his actions, including her kidnapping and rape.
A few media reports focused on spiritual aspects of the case, from citing Smart's Mormon upbringing and personal faithfulness to reaction from various church leaders.
Read CNN's Belief Blog from Jessica Ravitz: "Elizabeth Smart's other journey"
Read Nicole Neroulias' report from Beliefnet: "Abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart testifies on faith, survival"
Read John Hollenhorst's report in the Deseret News: "Religious leaders disgusted by Mitchell, inspired by Smart"
"That's not what religion is about," the Rev. Lee Shaw of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in West Valley City said in Hollenhorst's report. "That's not what churches do. We pray for people. We don't prey on people."
In the blogosphere, Deseret News mommy blogger Erin Stewart was moved by the compelling testimony, and wrote about her reaction in her latest blog.
And in the story "Elizabeth Smart: A Horror Story With a Happy Ending", Politics Daily correspondent Delia Lloyd wrote: "Elizabeth has spoken to local groups about how to move on after a traumatic experience, celebrated the passage of a national Amber Alert law for missing and abducted children, and offered advice to another alleged kidnapping victim, Jaycee Dugard. Wow. Kinda puts all that over-parenting stuff in perspective, doesn't it?"
KSL-TV's John Daley reported on the tangible community link with "Many feel connection to Elizabeth Smart's story, courage." Daley's local perspective quoted several people who either helped organize or were otherwise involved in the search for Smart more than 8 years ago.
Taking a different social view of the case, Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flory wrote "How a veil helped keep Elizabeth Smart captive", pointing to the case as a new twist to the debate over women covering their faces in public.
On discovery.com's news site, Benjamin Radford penned an analysis under the headline "Elizabeth Smart Case Busts Abduction Myths." Radford says the Smart case "has busted several popular myths about abductions" with regard to stranger kidnappings, sex offenders and psychic detectives.
With Smart's testimony complete, the trial will resume Monday and is expected to last into December. The coming week will likely focus on Mitchell's defense, which had petitioned the appeals court last week, claiming a fair and impartial jury could not be seated in Utah because of the large amount of media coverage the Elizabeth Smart story has generated over the past eight years.
Deseret News coverage of the case this week: