Jeffs Headed Back to Texas?
Utah judge signs polygamist prophet's extradition papers
By Jordan Smith, 2:19PM, Wed. Aug. 11, 2010
Just weeks after the Utah Supreme Court overturned polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs' two convictions for rape-as-accomplice, a Utah judge has signed off on Texas' bid to get Jeffs back to the Lone Star state to stand trial on charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
The Utah Supremes last month overturned Jeffs' two accomplice rape charges, for which he was sentenced to serve five years to life in 2007. Jeffs, the leader of the Mormon breakaway sect Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was convicted in connection with a marriage he arranged in 2001 between a 14-year-old female follower and her 19-year-old cousin. According to the Utah high court, however, the trial judge, James Shumate, failed to instruct jurors that in order to find Jeffs guilty, they had to determine that he knew when performing the marriage that it would lead to a forcible consummation of the union. The court has sent the case back for retrial. “We regret the effect our opinion today may have on the victim of the underlying crime, to whom we do not wish to cause additional pain,” the court wrote. “However, we must ensure that the laws are applied evenly and appropriately, in this case as in every case.”
Reportedly, prosecutors in Utah are still considering whether to file for a rehearing before the state’s high court, or whether to proceed with preparations for a new trial.
Jeffs is still facing charges here for sexual assault of a child and bigamy in connection with the so-called "spiritual marriages" he allegedly performed at the FLDS' gated compound outside the West Texas town of Eldorado. State law enforcers joined with child protection workers for a raid of the ranch in 2008, after which the state removed more than 400 children from the Yearning for Zion compound. The case fell apart for the state and the children were eventually returned to their parents at the ranch. Jeffs was charged along with 11 other FLDS men in the wake of the April 2008 raid.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the order extraditing Jeffs to Texas provides Utah an option to bring Jeffs back after his cases have been resolved. Jeffs' Utah attorneys have said he would fight any attempt at extradition.