Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs may be the one on trial, but he told court officials that if they don’t stop prosecuting him on two counts of sexual assault of a child, they would face an even bigger problem — the wrath of God.
After Judge Barbara Walther overruled Jeffs’ objection to the proceedings against him, Jeffs, acting as his own lawyer, said he would read what he described as a statement from God. The judge dismissed the jury from the courtroom, and then Jeffs read the statement.
“I, the Lord God of heaven,” Jeffs read, according to The Associated Press, “call upon the court to cease this open prosecution against my pure, holy way.”
If officials did not halt the proceedings, the statement said, “I will send a scourge upon the counties of prosecutorial zeal to make humbled by sickness and death.”
Walther said she’d remove Jeffs from the courtroom if he repeated the claim in front of jurors.
The statement from God capped a day featuring a nearly hour-long outburst by Jeffs. After spending hours in silence at his trial Thursday, he suddenly cried, “I object!” in court Friday afternoon, launching into a passionate sermon defending the “tradition” of polygamy, a practice he considers the will of God.
Jeffs , the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, is on trial over charges leveled after a 2008 raid on his sect’s compound.
He’s accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls in his sect and forcing them both into a “spiritual marriage.” The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. He faces a separate trial on a bigamy charge in October.
After firing his high-powered lawyers Thursday, [Jeffs] made no opening statement and spent hours sitting alone at the defense table staring into space while prosecutors made their case.
On Friday, however, Jeffs suddenly cried, “I object!” as FBI agent John Broadway testified about seizing eight desktop computers and 120 boxes and large folders of documents from the church’s remote compound in Eldorado in 2008.
“There is sacred trust given to religious leadership not to be touched by government agencies,” Jeffs said.
He then launched into a lengthy defense of polygamy, but Walther eventually overruled his objection. She said court rules prohibit him from testifying while objecting, but she let him go on at length because he hadn’t offered an opening statement.
Jeffs then said he had no choice but to read a statement from God. Walther dismissed the jury and allowed him to read it.