Defense in Smart Case
Wants Jurors Sequestered
SALT LAKE CITY -- Attorneys for the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart have filed a motion for the jury to be sequestered during the trial and the Bibles removed from their hotel rooms.
Lawyers for Brian David Mitchell, 50, argued in motions filed Friday that intense media coverage of the case could influence jurors if they are not sequestered. Lawyers asked that Bibles and other religious texts be removed from jurors' hotel rooms to "prevent prejudicial exposure."
Authorities have said Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, wrote a manifesto before kidnapping Elizabeth in which he declares himself a messenger of God and says it is God's will for men to have multiple wives.
Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, are accused of kidnapping Elizabeth, then 14, from her bedroom in June 2002. She was found safe in a Salt Lake City suburb nine months later.
Mitchell goes on trial in February for kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Barzee is undergoing treatment at a mental hospital after being deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Sequestration is rare in Utah, although it occasionally is requested in capital murder and other high-profile cases. Judges typically rely on admonishing jurors to avoid news coverage and refrain from discussing the case.
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