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Appeals court rejects effort to move Smart trial

Appeals court rejects effort to move Smart trial

By JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press Fri Nov 5, 3:22 pm ET

SALT LAKE CITY – The Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial is set to resume Monday after a federal appeals rejected defense efforts to move the proceedings out of Utah.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said Friday that arguments from attorneys for Brian David Mitchell that publicity had predetermined his guilt didn’t meet standards required to change the trial venue.

Federal prosecutors contend that the 12 jurors and two alternates picked to hear the trial can be impartial, despite already knowing some details of the case.

Mitchell’s trial on kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor charges was halted Thursday while the court considered the petition. The trial is now set to resume on Monday in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court before Judge Dale Kimball. It is expected to last at least five weeks.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the appeals court ruling and a telephone message left with Mitchell’s federal public defenders was not immediately returned.

If he is convicted, Mitchell could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

Smart was 14 in 2002 when she was taken from the bedroom of her home at knifepoint. She was missing for nine months and found in March 23 after motorists spotted her walking in a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell.

Prosecutors say Smart, now 23, will provide jurors with lengthy, detailed testimony about her abduction, alleged sexual abuses during nine months of captivity, and threats she has said Mitchell made on her life and her family.

Smart’s sister, mother and sister — Lois and Mary Katherine Smart — are expected to be the first witnesses to take the stand.

It was Lois Smart who hired Mitchell, then known only as a homeless street preacher named “Immanuel,” to do handyman work at the family home in 2002.

Mary Katherine Smart, then 9, was sleeping beside her sister on the night of the kidnapping. She provided police with the description of the man who entered the house that night, enabling a connection to be made between “Immanuel” and Mitchell.

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