Warren Jeffs trial: Jury stalled on 2nd count, but close to verdict

ST. GEORGE – Jurors deciding the fate of polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs deliberated for about 11 hours Monday without reaching a verdict, but said they are close to decisions on the two counts of rape as an accomplice.

Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate sent the five men and three women home at about 8:15 p.m., asking them to return to court at 9 a.m. today. Through a bailiff, jurors told the judge they thought it would help their deliberations to “sleep on it.”

The jurors had sent Shumate a note shortly after 3:30 p.m. Monday, saying they were deadlocked on the second count.

The note read: “We have a hung jury regarding the second count. We do not believe further deliberation is needed. How do we go about it at this point?”

In response, Shumate brought the jurors into the courtroom and referred them to a jury instruction that urges them to keep an open mind. He sent them back to continue deliberations, which continued over a pizza dinner.

Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is charged with two counts of being an accomplice to rape related to a marriage he conducted in 2001 between Elissa Wall, who was 14, and Allen Steed, then 19.

Prosecutors allege the first rape count occurred between April 23, 2001 – the day Jeffs conducted Wall’s marriage – and May 12, 2001, when she and Steed took a trip to Canada to visit her sisters.

The second count is alleged to have occurred between May 13, 2001, and September 30, 2003.

Wall, who has agreed to the use of her name at the time, was in the courtroom with her current husband and one of her attorneys when Shumate later sent the jurors home for the night. A dozen FLDS members also were in court.

The jury began its deliberations Friday, spending two hours before breaking for the weekend.

Now 21, Wall testified she objected numerous times to being married but Jeffs, then first counselor in the FLDS faith, ignored her.

She also said her husband had sex with her despite her protests and that Jeffs later refused her plea to be released from the marriage.

Allen Steed offered jurors a different account of their first sexual encounter, saying she had initiated it and that he never used force or coercion in their marital relations.

He told jurors that Jeffs counseled them to work on their marriage with love and kindness.

Jeffs, who has been incarcerated at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, will temporarily remain there regardless of the verdict. He faces a federal charge in Utah of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and, in Arizona, felony charges related to two underage marriages he performed.

One of those cases is based on Wall’s marriage.

Washington County authorities filed their case involving Wall against Jeffs in April 2006.

Jeffs spent nearly 14 months as a fugitive, even making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. While in hiding, he moved among safe houses in various states.

He was arrested on Aug. 28, 2006, during a traffic stop on I-15 outside Las Vegas.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Brooke Adams, The Salt Lake Tribune, Sep. 25, 2007, http://www.sltrib.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 25, 2007.
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