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Suspect Calls Smart 'Wife,' His Lawyer Says

March 17, 2003|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — An attorney for the man suspected of abducting Elizabeth Smart told a television station Sunday that his client considers the 15-year-old his wife and "still loves her."

"He wanted me to tell the world that she is his wife, and he still loves her and knows that she still loves him, that no harm came to her during their relationship and the adventure that went on," Larry Long, an attorney for Brian David Mitchell, said in an interview with Salt Lake City's KUTV.

Long told the station that Mitchell asked him Sunday to be his lawyer. He was speaking for his client for the first time.

Mitchell did not consider Elizabeth's disappearance a kidnapping, Long said, but a "call from God."

The lawyer suggested that giving a light sentence to his client -- whom he referred to as "the perpetrator" -- could send a signal to kidnappers that they should keep their captives alive.

"If we can somehow set up some structure where the message gets out that if you bring the girl back alive, that there's some kind of commutation of the sentence, we may be much better off as a society," Long said.

Nine months after her abduction from her home, Smart was found Wednesday with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, in Sandy, Utah. The two remained in jail Sunday awaiting charges that are expected to be filed today.

Mitchell, an excommunicated Mormon and self-styled prophet, wrote a rambling manifesto last year espousing the virtues of polygamy. The Mormon church has long distanced itself from the practice of taking multiple wives, and it excommunicates those who do.

Long said Mitchell is on a fruit-only diet in the jail and wants to be called "Immanuel David Isaiah." He wants Barzee to be known as "Hephzibah Eladah Isaiah" and for Elizabeth to be called "Shear Jashub Isaiah," or "remnant who will return."

"I found him to be very intelligent, very knowledgeable, very coherent and very articulate in his expression of his views," Long said.

About 250 Mormon faithful gathered to pray Sunday at Elizabeth Smart's church, where her grandfather declared that the girl was so robbed of her free will by her captors that she didn't try to escape, even when left alone for a day.

"As a doctor, it's amazing to me that you can become so brainwashed that you identify with your captor," Charles Smart said.

During the Sunday church service, Bishop David Hamblin said that despite anything that may have happened during the ordeal, the teen is "pure before the Lord. People who are in the control of others are not accountable."

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