On May 13 a judge will hear arguments for throwing out evidence seized from the sect’s ranch,
Eldorado, Tex. — A Texas judge has set the first criminal trials for members of a polygamous sect for October.
Raymond M. Jessop and Allen Keate are slated for jury trials beginning Oct. 26 on sexual assault charges. Trials for eight other men indicted by a Schleicher County grand jury will be set one per month, 51st District Judge Barbara Walther decided Monday.
The grand jury indicted 12 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last year on charges related to underage marriages.
With the exception of FLDS leader Warren S. Jeffs, the men charged with felonies attended the hearing at the Schleicher County Courthouse.
The case involving physician Lloyd H. Barlow, charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse, has been moved to Tom Green County.
The judge also set May 13 to hear arguments for throwing out evidence seized from the Yearning For Zion Ranch, which authorities raided in April after receiving a call alleging abuse. The call is now believed to have been a hoax.
The sect argues that false information was used in affidavits to get search warrants to enter the ranch and that law-enforcement officers knew before the raid that the individuals named in the warrants were not on the property.
Eric Nichols, lead prosecutor with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said the hearing will include all of the defendants except Jeffs. The sect’s attorneys also agreed to suspend efforts to suppress use of that evidence in Jeffs’ Arizona trial until after the May hearing.
In the meantime, defense and state attorneys will come up with a way to sift through 12 terabytes of data taken from the ranch.