FULLERTON, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - An Orange County judge on Thursday rejected a bid by prosecutors to call former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart as an expert witness in the trial of a man accused of kidnapping his former live-in girlfriend's teenage daughter in Santa Ana and sexually assaulting her over 10 years.
At the age of 14, Smart was abducted from her home in Utah and held hostage for 9 months. Years later, Smart travels around the country helping other victims. She flew into Orange County in hopes of becoming an expert witness in the case against 42-year old Isidro Garcia.
Garcia's alleged victim, then 15, was reported missing in August 2004 by her mother, who suspected Garcia, her one-time live-in boyfriend, of abducting her daughter, police said.
The mother also suspected at that time that Garcia had been sexually abusing the teen for about two months, according to investigators.
Garcia met the girl in February 2004 and would buy her gifts and take her side when the teen quarreled with her mother, according to prosecutors.
Garcia is accused of molesting and kissing the girl between June and August of 2004, according to prosecutors. He sexually assaulted the girl three different times and raped her once, prosecutors allege.
Garcia is accused of forcing his captive into marriage in 2007 and had a child with her in 2012. His attorney has contended that the alleged victim had multiple chances to leave the defendant over the course of 10 years and go to authorities, but failed to do so.
The alleged victim contacted her sister through Facebook on her birthday in April of 2104, marking the first time her family had heard from her in years. A domestic dispute involving her and Garcia in Bell Gardens led to the suspect's arrest, police said.
"Our cases were very similar that a lot of threat and manipulation was used and she did what she had to, to survive," Smart said Thursday.
"When he told me that he would kill me, that he would kill my family, I believed him. Everything he said he would do to me, he did, without anyone ever stepping in and protecting me, so those threats are very, very real to me,” she added.
But the judge ruled that Smart could not be an expert witness in the Garcia case because in his view the two cases are too different.
"I respect the judge and I would just have to agree to disagree. I do feel like I have something I could have contributed."