Warren Jeffs gets the max – no retrial in Utah
9 November, 2011
Warren Jeffs had been found guilty in Utah of rape by accomplice in 2007 – a conviction that was overturned last year by the Utah supreme court, which cited improper jury instructions by the trial judge.
“As a result of the conviction in Texas, we decided not to bring him back to Utah for a re-trial,” said Brian Filter, senior deputy attorney for Washington County.
[August 9]Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers. He stood quietly as the decision of the Texas jury was read August 9. He received the maximum sentence on both counts
Prosecutors seeking life in prison for convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs closed their case with a final barrage of graphic audiotapes, records of 24 alleged underage brides and writings that ordered followers to “fight to the death” when police eventually came for him.
The same jury that convicted Jeffs last week of sexually assaulting two of his child “brides” could now hand down their punishment early as Tuesday. Even in prison, he could continue to lead the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Among the final pieces of evidence was an audiotape of Jeffs having sex and one of him telling five girls to “set aside all your inhibitions” as he gives his child brides instructions on how to please him sexually.
Jeffs’ attorneys rested without calling any witnesses as the sentencing phase drew to a close. Jurors will begin deliberating August 8 following closing arguments.
A jury on August 4 convicted polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he took as plural wives.
The West Texas panel of 10 women and two men deliberated about 3 1/2 hours before finding the 55-year-old man guilty of one count each of sexual assault of a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Jeffs stood to hear the verdict, stared directly at District Judge Barbara Walther, then sat back down.
The same jury that convicted him will now decide his sentence, which could be imprisonment for up to life.
During closing arguments just after noon today, Jeffs, head of the polygamy-sanctioning Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stood silent before the jury for 24 minutes, gazing into space.
Then he said, “I am at peace,” and stood mute another five minutes before sitting down.
In his closing arguments earlier, Special Prosecutor Eric Nichols reminded jurors of the DNA evidence presented during the nine-day trial and the audio recording Nichols said was of Jeffs having sex with a 12-year-old girl.
State District Judge Barbara Walther gave instructions to the jury before the closing arguments. The jury began deliberating at 12:40 p.m.