Warren Jeffs attorney objects to pre-sentence interviews

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Defense attorneys for a polygamous-sect leader convicted as an accomplice to rape want to prevent the state from interviewing him for a pre-sentencing report to the court.

In a letter filed Wednesday in 5th District Court in St. George, Utah, attorney Wally Bugden said statements Warren Jeffs might make could be used against him in pending criminal prosecutions in Arizona.

“Mr. Jeffs is on the horns of a dilemma,” Bugden wrote to probation and parole officer Denise Gilgen. “There is no fifth amendment privilege that would protect or immunize the statements that Mr. Jeffs might make to you.”

Bugden also contends that Jeffs’ constitutional right against self-incrimination “compels the conclusion that he should continue to exercise his right to remain silent and thereby forego a pre-sentence report interview with you.”

Bugden could not be reached for comment Wednesday and a telephone message left with the Washington County, Utah, Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned.

It’s unclear how Jeffs’ refusal to cooperate could impact his Nov. 20 sentencing. The reports provide judges with detailed background information on convicted persons to assist in sentencing decisions.

Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In September, he was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 arranged marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her cousin.

Prosecutors in Mohave County have filed two criminal cases, both alleging the church leader was an accomplice to sexual misconduct with a minor and incest.

The teen bride who was the key witness in Jeffs’ Utah case is also the alleged victim in one of the Arizona cases.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 25, 2007.
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