Ex-FLDS leader rescinds plea deal to stand trial

A former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has renounced a plea deal he had entered and is now set to go to trial for three charges of felony bigamy.

The San Angelo Standard-Times says

Wendell Loy Nielsen, 71, entered pleas of no contest in October and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

He then asked 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to change the conditions of his probation, but she refused, so Nielsen asked on Monday to withdraw his plea and stand trial; Walther granted that request. [...]

His trial is set for Jan. 23, and a final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20, when issues such as venue may be decided.

Conditions Nielsen found objectionable included staying away from playgrounds, not having contact with people under 17 and participating in a cognitive behavioral therapy program. [...]

Special conditions included not holding a leadership position in the FLDS and cooperating with law enforcement in reporting illegal activity.

The decision to ask for a change in probation conditions came after Colorado officials had refused to allow Nielsen to transfer his probation from Texas to Colorado, where he had intended to live with his son.

Nielsen had been sentenced to 10 years of probation after pleading no contest in October.

If convicted on all three charges he faces up to 30 years in prison.

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