Elizabeth Smart Kidnap Trial: Crazy Courtroom Antics Have Only Just Begun

Suzanne Murray

brian david mitchell trial
Brian David Mitchell
Jury selection
started in the Elizabeth Smart trial today and things are already getting interesting. Brian David Mitchell, the defendant in the case, got kicked out of the courtroom.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball declared that Mitchell -- who faces federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart -- was competent to stand trial.

He might be rethinking that ruling.

After all, what is a guy who calls himself an "angel from heaven that was sent to Earth to serve the destitute and correct the Mormon Church by restoring its fundamental values," if not nuts?

Today during jury selection, Mitchell sang hymns for about half an hour (his eyes were closed and hands were clasped like he was praying) before the judge booted him out of the courtroom. (He was taken to another room in the courthouse to watch the proceeding via video.) Earlier, Mitchell asked to put on the robes he was wearing when he was found with Smart and arrested in March 2003.

Seriously, dude, not the way to get on the jury's good side. (Well, that and kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, forcing her into polygamous marriage, and raping her three to four times a day for 9 months.)

But maybe it's all part of the defense strategy -- Mitchell's attorneys plan to argue that he was insane at the time of the kidnapping. So one can only guess what antics the rest of the proceedings will bring.

Mitchell isn't the first defendant to get his crazy on during a trial.

Throughout the Chicago 7 courtroom spectacle trial, defendant Abbie Hoffman often resorted to headline-grabbing behavior. He showed up wearing judicial robes, was sworn in as a witness giving the middle finger, and when asked what state he resided in, he replied, "State of mind of my brothers and sisters."

When Charles Manson was on trial for the Helter Skelter murders, he appeared with an X carved into his forehead on the first day of trial. Another day, he leaped over the defense table and attempted to attack the judge, while his female cohorts and defendants stood and started chanting in Latin.

Hoffman's conviction (of intent to incite a riot) was overturned on appeal; Manson is still rotting in jail.

Tomorrow is Day 2 of jury selection in the Elizabeth Smart trial, several potential jurors already having been dismissed today -- some likely because they'd already determined that Mitchell was cuckoo.

Sounds like the defense might be on to something.

Do you think Mitchell is guilty, crazy -- or both?

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