Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart told a court today that she stopped resisting the kidnapper who raped her daily after repeated near misses by rescuers who were so close by that she could hear them calling her name.
Smart, now 23, testified in the trial today of accused kidnapper Brian David Mitchell that she pleaded with him and tried to prevent the rapes that occurred more than once a day while chained to a tree in Mitchell's forest hideout.
She was often tempted to scream out for help, especially when she heard rescue workers calling her name, she testified. Smart said Mitchell told her that if she yelled or screamed he would "duct tape my mouth shut and anyone who came in he said he would kill."
Finally her mindset changed where she decided to survive she should go along with their beliefs, said Smart. " [I told myself to] do everything he told me to do to live. I did that until the very end."
Smart's testimony riveted the Salt Lake City courtroom.
"I was crying a lot and I didn't realize what was happening at first," Smart said from the witness stand. "I begged him not to. I did everything I could to stop him. I pleaded with him not to touch me."
Smart, who was 14 at the time she was abducted, was no match for Mitchell's alleged attacks.
It's been eight years since Smart was snatched from her bed in Salt Lake City and forced to spend nine months on the run. After passersby reported spotting Smart in a Salt Lake City suburb, authorities arrested Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, charging them with Smart's kidnapping and sexual assault.
Now living in Paris while she works on a Latter Day Saints mission, Smart maintained her composure on the stand today at Mitchell's trial, appearing calm and collected, showing very little emotion while offering the public more insight into what happened during her kidnapping.
Smart said that she would lie on her stomach to try and make it harder for Mitchell to rape her, but that he did it anyway, despite her pleas.
"I felt like prostitutes had a better life than I did," said Smart. ""I told him I was just a little girl. A 14 year old girl against a grown man doesn't even out so much."
Often praying herself to sleep, Smart testified that she spent six weeks tethered to a tree by a metal cable that was tied around her ankle so she couldn't escape.
Mitchell would constantly remind her that her kidnapping was "the work of God."
"He said that I was very lucky and that I was being saved from the world," said Smart. "I had been called by God to be his wife."
Smart also recounted the details from the night she was kidnapped, telling the juror that she had taken the time to go around the house and close the windows before going to sleep.
"There was a window in our kitchen that I did not close because the smell of burned smoke still filled the air," said Smart.
The window had been left open to let out the smell of burned potatoes from her mother's cooking earlier that day. It was the very same window that Mitchell would allegedly climb through just hours later.
Describing how she woken up, Smart said, "There was a strange man's voice and I could feel something cold against my neck."
"I remember his saying I have a knife to your neck. Don't make a sound or I will kill you and your family. Get out of bed," said Smart. "I knew how deadly the situation was. I was scared. Extremely scared."