Polygamous sect leader’s daughter pleads guilty to contempt

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The daughter of a Utah polygamous sect leader involved in four 1988 Texas murders has pleaded guilty to a federal contempt charge, ending a decades-long family crime saga.

The Associated Press reports that

Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron, 46, entered the plea last week in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, 19 years after she was first charged.

Magistrate Judge David Nuffer gave LeBaron — also known as Melanie Martin — credit for time she’s already served during the Thursday hearing and added no time to the three-year federal sentence she’s currently serving in a San Diego prison for her involvement in the Texas murders.

Federal prosecutors first filed a felony contempt charge against LeBaron in March 1992, more than a year after she walked away from court-ordered confinement at a Salt Lake City treatment facility where she was being held as a witness during a 1991 federal grand jury investigation. […]

After nearly two decades on the lam, LeBaron was finally captured by authorities in Honduras in May 2010.


The Salt Lake Tribune says

Now that the 46-year-old LeBaron’s Utah case is cleared, she will likely be returned to Texas, where in September she was ordered to serve a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to her role in the 1988 slayings of three adults and an 8-year-old girl in Texas. The victims had broken with the Church of the Lamb of God sect led by her father, and LeBaron gave travel money to family members who went on to kill the victims. […]

The Church of the Lamb of God had been led by Ervil LeBaron, who died in the Utah State Prison in 1981 after being convicted of ordering the 1977 assassination of a rival polygamous leader in Salt Lake County.

While in prison, Ervil LeBaron wrote the 400-page Book of the New Covenants in which he imposed the death penalty for any sect member who broke sect commandments. The FBI said that Ervil LeBaron’s writings influenced LeBaron family members to carry out murders in Houston and Irving, Texas, on June 27, 1988. […]

Jacqueline LeBaron was charged in a Texas federal on 14 counts, including murder, and could have faced life in prison. But she pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to obstruct religious beliefs as part of an agreement with prosecutors. She received a three-year sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake in September.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 22, 2013