ELDORADO — Attorneys made their choice of jury members Monday evening and plan to seat the jury this morning in the trial of Abram Harker Jeffs.
The state has charged Jeffs, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with sexual assault of a child.
Earlier that day, during general “voir dire” which literally means, “to tell the truth,” defense and prosecution asked about relationships to those involved with the trial, biases for or against the FLDS, whether people would have trouble with the defendant not testifying, and, regarding the crime itself, the range of punishment.
Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, unless an enhancement applies.
The enhancement says that if the defendant was prohibited from marrying, purporting to marry or living with under the appearance of being married to the alleged victim, then the crime becomes a first-degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If the sentence is less than 10 years, the defendant becomes eligible for probation.
Jeffs is the sixth member of the FLDS to undergo legal proceedings for sexual assault of a child. Two issued pleas of no contest and three others have been tried in Schleicher County and Tom Green County. Evidence against them was seized in an April 2008 raid on the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch. The raid is said to have begun to search for a woman claiming to have suffered abuse on the ranch. The call is now regarded to have been a hoax.