Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Sentenced To Life In Prison

Aug 9, 2011

A jury has sentenced polygamist leader Warren Jeffs to life in prison. The AP reports from San Angelo, Texas:

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stood quietly as the decision of the Texas jury was read Tuesday. He received the maximum sentence on both counts.

The jury deliberated less than half an hour. The 55-year-old Jeffs was convicted Thursday. During the trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence to show Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old and played an audio recording of what they said was him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.

As Howard Berkes wrote for us, last week, it's unclear what happens to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints now. Howard provides a bit of background:

Seven other FLDS men were convicted of sexual assault and bigamy charges in Texas. Jeffs and some of his followers faced similar charges in Utah and Arizona but prosecutors in Texas have been more successful in obtaining convictions. That's because the Texas cases are bolstered by detailed and incriminating diaries, photographs, recordings and other documents seized in a raid on an FLDS ranch in Texas in 2008.

Jeffs moved some of his members and leaders to Texas, and built the faith's first and only temple there, in response to crackdowns in Arizona and Utah, where the FLDS group is based.

Jeffs was previously convicted in Utah in 2007 of facilitating rape, after he married a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old first cousin. The Utah Supreme Court overturned that conviction last year.

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