Drifter Tells Judge Smart Was His "Daughter"

Last month, Mitchell told judge he lived with 'wife and daughter'

MARCH 14--Claiming that he was a "minister for the Lord" living with his "wife and daughter," the man suspected of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart last month told a California judge that his February 12 arrest for vandalizing a San Diego church "was the worst night and the worst week of my whole life." Brian David Mitchell, the 49-year-old drifter who allegedly held the Utah teenager captive for nine months, claimed that, "for the first time in 22 years I got drunk that night and...the whole night was just a nightmare." Mitchell compared his one-week incarceration to "like, uh, Jonah getting swallowed by the whale."

According to the official Superior Court recording of the February 18 sentencing--obtained by The Smoking Gun--Mitchell told Judge Charles Ervin that his bust "turned me right around and, and I know I need to do what the Lord wants me to do with my life...I am deeply sorry and...nothing like that's going to happen again."

Originally charged with burglary in the San Diego case, Mitchell pleaded to a reduced misdemeanor charge of vandalizing Lakeside Presbyterian Church. The February bust, amazingly, was not the first time the drifter was arrested during the period Smart was missing. Mitchell was nabbed by Salt Lake City cops in late-September on a shoplifting charge, nearly four months after the girl was snatched from her bed last June.

Along with the below audio and video links, you'll find a transcript of the sentencing hearing, which TSG has prepared. In addition to Mitchell--who was arrested and charged under the alias Michael Jenson--and Judge Ervin, an unidentified court clerk, Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr, and Mitchell's lawyer, David Lamb, can be also heard on the tape. Where we've been unable to understand portions of the tape, we marked those segments with the symbol UI, for unintelligible.

Listen here:

Clerk: We're ready on Michael Jenson, number [UI].

Ervin: People versus Jenson 191.

Lamb: Yes, your honor, I believe that Mr. Jenson is going to plea then, to the, uh, to the, uh, 594, your honor.

Ervin: Alright, as to count one sir. Violation of penal code section 594(a)(b)(2)(A) misdemeanor vandalism. How do you plead to that charge sir, guilty or not guilty?

Mitchell: Guilty.

Ervin: Are you pleading guilty to that offense because on or about February 12 of this year you unlawfully damaged and destroyed somebody's property? The amount that your damage was, was less than $400?

Mitchell: Yeah.

Ervin: Guilty plea is accepted as to count one. The balance of the charge is dismissed in light of the plea. Are you ready for sentence?

Lamb: Yes, your honor.

Ervin: Is there any legal cause why judgment should not now be implosed, imposed?

Lamb: No, your honor.


Ervin: People, uh, Mr. Lamb do you wish to be heard?

Lamb: No, your honor.

Ervin: People wish to be heard?

Schorr: No, your honor.

Ervin: Mr. Jenson, where you gonna be living when you get out of custody?

Mitchell: Sir, um, I don't know that yet.

Ervin: Alright.

Mitchell: Um, my wife and my daughter are staying with some friends presently in, uh, Lakeside and, uh, I'll be, I'll be there, too. We're staying with some friends in the Lord Jesus Christ. Uh, I'm a minister for the Lord and, uh...

Lamb: Where you living? Do you have a place to stay?

Mitchell: With, with these friends.

Ervin: On the day that you broke into the church where were you living at?

Mitchell: With these friends.

Ervin: Alright. I'm gonna release you from custody. I'm gonna put you on a grant of probation. Now you just told me that you're a minister for Jesus Christ, and I appreciate that. But if you're going into the Presbyterian church or any of those churches out there in Lakeside for the purpose of ministering and they don't want you on the property. If you don't have permission on the property, that's gonna be a violation of the charge of burglary that I'm sure Mr. Lamb's gonna discuss with you momentarily. Also, if you're going into those churches you're breaking the window and you're going in there because you don't have a place to live, that likewise could be a violation of the law. You understand that?

Mitchell: I do, your honor. And that, that was the worst night and the worst week of my whole life. I, I had, I had for the first time in 22 years I got drunk that night and, uh, and the whole night was just a nightmare and, and it's, and, and I, this week in jail has, uh, been like, uh, Jonah getting swallowed by the whale. It's, it's turned me right around and, and I know I need to do what the Lord wants me to do with my life and, and, and uh, and uh, and I am, I am deeply sorry and, and, uh, nothing like that's gonna happen again.

Ervin: The imposition of sentence is suspended for a period of three years on the following terms and conditions: he is to violate no laws. No same or similar offenses. Minor traffic offenses are excepted. He is to make full restitution for the window or any property that might have been broken at the Presbyterian church, and the record should reflect that it is Lakeside Presby, 9908 Channel Road, Lakeside, California. He is to pay a fine in the amount of $150 and a $100 state restitution fund fine. Fine is deemed satisfied by his time in custody, nine days. Seven actual and two 4019 PC good time, work time credits, for a total of nine days. Do you understand the terms and conditions of your probation, Mr. Jenson?

Mitchell: Yes, I do your honor.

Ervin: And do you accept them?

Mitchell: Yes, I do your honor.

Ervin: Good luck.