SAN ANGELO, Texas — Michael Emack walked into the courtroom, sat down and stretched out his handcuffed hands to shake with those around him, with his lawyer Randy Wilson, with Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spokesman Willie Jessop, and finally with the man seated next to him, Lehi Barlow Jeffs, who was there to plead no contest to charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a child.
Emack’s orange jumpsuit clashed with Jeffs’ blue button-down shirt. Emack, 59, an FLDS member, had pleaded no contest in January to sexual assault of a child, a 16-year-old girl with whom he fathered a child. He received a seven-year sentence from 51st District Judge Barbara Walther.
Emack was in Walther’s court again Thursday to plead no contest again, this time to a charge of bigamy.
The state, led by prosecuting attorney Eric Nichols, presented dozens of records to make the case that, besides his legal wife, he had three “spiritual” or “celestial” wives.
Walther sentenced him to seven years, to be served concurrently with his previous sentence.
Jeffs, 31, and the nephew of the former leader of the FLDS, was next. He took a plea deal and was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexual assault of a child, a girl who was bound to him in a nonlegal marriage when she was 15 years old. The assault itself — based on the date of birth of her child — was alleged to have occurred on Sept. 18, 2006.
Jeffs also plead no contest to bigamy. He was sentenced to eight years, to be served concurrently with his other sentence.
A trial on a charge of sexual assault of a child had been scheduled for Jeffs on Monday in Schleicher County.
Jessop, who often acts as a spokesman for the FLDS, said the “selective prosecution” that the state is engaged in hasn’t altered much since he came to San Angelo during the April 2008 raid that, based on what is now thought to be a hoax phone call alleging abuse, resulted in the removal of more than 400 children from the ranch and the seizure of personal and community property to use as evidence against the FLDS.
“My first introduction to the courthouse was a big yellow tape around it that said ‘crime scene,’” Jessop said. “There is no change.”