SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Defense attorneys on Tuesday asked a federal judge to acquit the man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart, saying prosecutors failed to make their case.
Brian David Mitchell faces federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sexual activity. If convicted, Mitchell could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday. Defense attorneys contend prosecutors failed, in particular, to prove the count relating to sexual activity.
In court papers, Mitchell's attorneys said that sex was incidental to the trip made to California during Smart's nine months of captivity. Smart was 14 at the time of the abduction.
"To put it bluntly, Mr. Mitchell had no need of traveling outside of Utah for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with Ms. Smart," the defense wrote.
In a response, the government said it only has to prove sex was a motivating purpose for the trip.
It's unclear when U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball will rule on the acquittal motion.
Smart has said she was forced to marry Mitchell in a religious ceremony and act as his wife, including having sex. She testified that she was raped after arriving in California in October 2002.
But she also said Mitchell felt "inspired" to got to California, believing that he needed to "find a new city for a new wife." She said Mitchell recounted having a revelation that "seven different wives would come from seven different cities."
Defense attorneys also noted that an FBI agent said Mitchell told him that he had chose to go the San Diego area because the winter climate would be warmer than Utah.
Prosecutors argue that Mitchell was clearly motivated by sex.
"The evidence is clear that the defendant intended to treat Miss Smart as his 'wife' in California, which treatment including raping and otherwise sexually abusing her," federal prosecutors wrote. "The evidence is clear that the defendant traveled to California with the intention of obtaining a new 'wife' in California, and part of Miss Smart's responsibilities as his 'wife' was to demonstrate sex for the new 'wife."'
The filing came hours after Mitchell's defense attorneys began building their case, painting a picture of a deeply religious man who became increasingly inflexible and lost in his own beliefs.
Witnesses told jurors that Brian David Mitchell thought the world was descending toward the final days and followed "revelations" from God to change jobs, follow an alternative medicine and travel around the country homeless to test how others would treat the poor.
"He felt that he had some kind of divine mission," said Karl West, whose parents allowed Mitchell to intermittently live in their Orem, Utah, home between 1999 and 2001.
Smart was taken from her home at knifepoint on June 5, 2002, and held captive until March 13, 2003. Smart, now 23, testified that she endured nearly daily rapes, was forced to use drugs and alcohol, and was taken against her will to California.
Mitchell's attorneys have not disputed the facts of Smart's abduction and nine months in captivity, but contend he is mentally ill and can't be held responsible for his actions. Federal prosecutors say Mitchell is faking a mental illness.
A federal judge ruled him competent earlier this year. Mitchell is not expected to testify on his own behalf.
Mitchell has been removed from court daily for disrupting the trial by singing religious hymns - Christmas carols on Tuesday. He watches the proceedings on closed-circuit television from a holding cell.