Elizabeth Smart smiled in court as Brian David Mitchell was convicted yesterday of kidnapping her and subjecting her to nine months of sexual and mental torture that included repeated rapes, forced consumption of drugs and frequent threats to kill her.
In finding Mitchell guilty, the jury rejected his legal defense that he was too mentally ill to be held liable for the crime.
Speaking for the first time since the verdict, Smart said she hopes her story helps other victims speak out about the crimes they've endured.
"I hope this will give hope to other victims who have not spoken out about what has happened to them," said Smart. "I hope that this is not only an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened."
Earlier in the day, Smart's lawyers expressed their happiness with the jury's decision and said the case hinged on Smart's brave testimony.
"This is a very historic and momentous day in the criminal justice history of this state," said Carlie Christensen, U.S. attorney for Utah. "We are very pleased the jury reached the verdict that they did."
"The beginning and end of this story is attributable to a woman with extraordinary courage and extraordinary determination and that's Elizabeth Smart," said Christensen. "That young woman had the ability and willingness to recall the graphic details of the nine month captivity."
"She did it with candor and clarity and truthfulness that I think moved all of us and gave a very powerful and credible story," she said. "She is a remarkable young woman."
Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet who was frequently removed from the courtroom because he would break into song, will be sentenced on May 25 and could face life in prison.
As the verdict was read, Mitchell sang religious hymns loudly while his lawyer tried to get him to be quiet.
Jurors, intent on remaining anonymous and identified themselves only by their numerical positions on the panel, told reporters that that the trial took an emotional toll on them. Still, they said they were "honored" to help Smart get justice after so many years.
"When you sit for hours at a time and listen to in credibly unbelievable things that happened to a young lady like Elizabeth Smart you have to be pretty callous to be able to walk away without having something sticking in your heart," said Juror No. 9.
Juror No. 14 said that after the first day of testimony jurors returned to the deliberation room and did not say a word while four of five of the members were crying.
"I'm privileged to have shaken her hand and given her a hug," he said. "I pray that Elizabeth can go forward with her life and enjoy every rich thing life has to offer."
Following the trial, Smart will leave Utah for Paris, France, to complete a Mormon church mission.
Mitchell's former stepdaughter, Rebecca Woodridge, told reporters that she was surprised at the verdict.
"I think he should have been found not guilty and been sent somewhere to find the reason that he does the things he does," said Woodridge.
Jurors spent just over five hours deliberating before coming to a verdict just after 10:30 a.m.
While defense attorneys never argued that Smart was not kidnapped and repeatedly raped by Mitchell, they spent much of the trial arguing that Mitchell is not mentally sane and cannot be liable for his actions.