Polygamist Sect Leader Extradited to Texas for Trial
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
HOUSTON — Warren S. Jeffs, the jailed leader of a polygamous sect of Mormons, was transferred Tuesday to West Texas to stand trial on charges of bigamy and sexual assault after fighting extradition from Utah for two years.
Prosecutors say Mr. Jeffs had sex with under-age girls among his followers after ceremonies in which he took them as “spiritual” wives at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Tex. Mr. Jeffs founded the ranch in 2004 as a community for his followers, who practiced polygamy there and arranged marriages between under-age girls and male elders, according to testimony.
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Jeffs was arraigned in San Angelo on two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of bigamy. The indictments said one of the victims was 14 years old when she was assaulted in 2006. The judge sent Mr. Jeffs to a jail in Big Lake, Tex., to await trial.
The state raided the ranch in 2008 and gathered evidence that has led to the convictions of seven other men in the sect on similar charges. About 400 children were initially taken into state custody in the raid, but they were later ordered returned to their parents because there was no evidence they had been abused.
In 2007, Mr. Jeffs was convicted in Utah of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her older cousin. But in July, the Utah Supreme Court overturned the conviction and sent it back to a trial court in St. George, Utah.
Mr. Jeffs was still in prison last week, awaiting a decision by prosecutors about whether to retry his case, when the State Supreme Court said it would not block his extradition to Texas.
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The Statesman - Texas December 1, 2010
Polygamist sect leader Jeffs arrives in Texas
by Mike Ward
More than two years years after he was indicted on bigamy and sexual assault charges in connection a headline-grabbing raid on a West Texas ranch, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has arrived in Texas from Utah to face trial.
Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said this morning that Jeffs arrived at a West Texas jail about 9 p.m. on Tuesday and is to be arraigned later this morning in San Angelo.
Authorities refused to disclose exactly where Jeffs is being held while he awaits trial, citing security reasons.
The extradition came after the Utah Supreme Court on Nov. 23 refused to block Jeff’s transfer to Texas.
The 54-year-old ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a church based in Southern Utah that practices polygamy, faces charges for alleged spiritual marriages of underage girls at a church-owned ranch near Eldorado.
The charges stem from evidence gathered during a raid by Texas authorities on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April 2008.
Until he was brought to Texas, Jeffs had been housed at the Utah State Prison after his conviction on two charges of rape, as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage of an underage follower - then 14 - to her 19-year-old cousin, authorities said.
In July, the Utah Supreme overturned the 2007 convictions and sent the case back to a district court for further action, although Utah prosecutors have yet to decide whether to retry Jeffs.
Jeff’s attorneys in Utah had argued that sending him to Texas could delay the resolution of the Utah case for years.
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BBC News - December 1, 2010
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs arraigned in Texas
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has been arraigned in a courtroom in Texas on charges of sexual assault and bigamy after being extradited from Utah.
Mr Jeffs, who was not asked to enter a plea, told the judge he needed more time to find a lawyer.
The 53-year-old was indicted more than two years ago, after a raid on a ranch where a breakaway Mormon sect allegedly married young girls to church leaders.
He is waiting a retrial in Utah after a conviction there was overturned.
The new trial in Texas, which relates to abuse claims at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, is scheduled to begin on 24 January.
Mr Jeffs, the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was convicted by a Utah court in August 2007 of two counts of conspiracy to rape.
That conviction was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court in July this year.
Utah officials said he could be tried in Texas before the retrial in their state took place.
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San Angelo Standard-Times Texas December 2, 2010
FLDS: Jeffs a challenge for his jailers
Arizona sheriff says Jeffs was highest-maintenance prisoner
Dave Hawkins Special to the Standard-Times
KINGMAN, Ariz. — Texas can expect numerous challenges and a drain of taxpayer funded resources associated with the incarceration and prosecution of polygamous church sect prophet Warren Jeffs, 55. That’s what officials in northwest Arizona indicate after holding Jeffs in the Mohave County jail in downtown Kingman for nearly 27 months.
Jeffs was extradited to Texas from Utah Tuesday and is housed in the county jail at Big Lake. He was arraigned Wednesday and has a pretrial hearing scheduled Dec. 8.
“He was very costly to incarcerate and house,” said Mohave County, Ariz., Sheriff Tom Sheahan. “He went on these self-imposed hunger strikes, which forced us to force feed him through tubes. It was a big drain on our staff, a big drain on our medical provider, and he was just a problem inmate from day one.”
Jeffs was booked into jail in Kingman February 26, 2008, and was released June 15, 2010, after local charges were dismissed.
The devout loyalty of Jeffs’ followers and their strenuous belief that he was unjustly jailed magnified external security concerns, according to Jail Director Bruce Brown. More than a dozen officers worked a special detail each time Jeffs was transported from jail to the courthouse, about 100 yards away.
Personnel would block the street, remove civilians and drive Jeffs from the jail salley port directly to the entry door at the courthouse. Extra officers patrolled streets around the courthouse during Jeffs’ hearings, and at least a half-dozen officers were always present in the courtroom.
Inside the jail, Jeffs required isolation, both for medical monitoring and for his own protection.
“We had to keep him segregated from the inmate population because there’s certain members inside our general population that would not have allowed him to exist in safety very long,” Brown said.
Prayer binges and fasting also made Jeffs a high maintenance inmate.
“He was one of the most manpower intensive inmates we ever had,” said Sheahan.
Jeffs was rushed to Kingman Regional Medical Center the first time in July 2008 after less than five months’ confinement in the Kingman jail. He was flown to another hospital in Las Vegas after exhibiting signs of weakness and lethargy.
Following the July incident, Jeffs followed the same hospital circuit in September 2008. He was treated at the Kingman and Las Vegas hospitals for dehydration, malnourishment and lethargy. Brown said Jeffs, who is 6-feet, 3-inches tall, weighed only 144 pounds.
After the second hospital trip, medical staff in the jail began force feeding Jeffs through tubes when he engaged in religious fasting that imperiled his health. And they sometimes would take measures to prevent prolonged prayer sessions that produced sores on his knees.
“There were times when we literally had to tie him down or four-point restrain him in his bed so that he wouldn’t continue to do medical damage to his body,” Brown said.
Prosecuting Jeffs was rigorous as well, according to Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith. He said three defense lawyers working the Arizona case put quite a strain on his office and its limited resources.
“It was extremely strenuous,” Smith said. He said the defense team taxed his resources with extensive discovery efforts and motion practice.
The charges against Jeffs, related to allegations that he facilitated marriages of underage girls, were dismissed with prejudice on June 9 and he was sent to Utah.
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