'Preacher' found guilty in notorious US kidnapping

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A homeless street preacher was found guilty Friday of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and raping her during a nine-month ordeal, after jurors rejected a plea of insanity.

The jury deliberated for about five hours before announcing guilty verdicts on two counts for self-styled prophet Brian David Mitchell, who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart in June 2002.

Mitchell's lawyers had tried to argue that he was mentally unfit -- he spent much of the month-long trial singing in court -- but jurors ruled that he was sane enough to take responsibility for his actions.

The long-bearded defendant was found guilty of kidnapping Smart when she was just a teenage girl and taking her across state lines to have sex with her.

Smart, now 23, testified for three days during the trial, and watched the hearings as they advanced. She smiled when the guilty verdicts were returned.

Mitchell will be sentenced on May 25, and could face up to life in prison for the kidnapping, which made worldwide headlines in 2003 when Smart was released.

Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee were accused of kidnapping Smart from her bedroom on June 5, 2002 and holding her captive before she was eventually rescued.

Prosecutors praised Smart's courage in testifying about her brutal plight.

"The beginning and the end of this story is attributable to a woman with extraordinary courage and extraordinary determination. And that's Elizabeth Smart," said lead prosecutor Carrie Christensen.

"That young woman had the ability and the willingness to recall the graphic details of her nine-month captivity and she did it with candor and clarity and a truthfulness that I think moved all of us.

"She is a remarkable young woman," she added. "We are very pleased the jury reached the verdict they did."

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