Polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs is Arizona-bound

PHOENIX — Polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs should be in Arizona late this month or in early March to face charges in the marriages of two teenage girls and older men, an Arizona prosecutor said Monday.

“He should be here fairly soon,” Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith told The Associated Press on Monday.

He said Utah officials are signing the last of their paperwork and making arrangements, and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office has to coordinate with Utah authorities as to when they can pick Jeffs up.

Jeffs will have an initial appearance once he gets to Arizona, but Smith said it’s unclear when his trial will start.

“He’s got attorneys and they’re going to file motions, and we’re going to have hearings and interviews and depositions,” he said.

Jeffs’ lawyer, Mike Piccarreta, said he has been requesting that Jeffs be brought to Arizona as soon as possible so he can get the fair trial he didn’t get in Utah. Jeffs is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison on his conviction there on two counts of rape by accomplice.

“We wanted this process to begin sooner rather than later, and we’re hoping that it’s about to begin,” Piccarreta said. “Mr. Jeffs did not get a fair shake in Utah, and in large part due to where the trial was located, and I think unless Mr. Jeffs gets a trial in a fair venue here in Arizona, any outcome is subject to public skepticism, and properly so.”

He said he will continue with his plan to ask the judge in the case to move the trial outside of Kingman because of its proximity to the Utah trial.

Jeffs, 52, is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose members practice polygamy in arranged marriages that often involve placing young girls with older men.

He faces four felony charges in Arizona in a 2005 case involving the marriages of two teenage girls and older men who were their relatives.

Jeffs also is charged as an accomplice with four counts of incest and four counts of sexual contact with a minor in an indictment handed up last year for similar cases.

The FLDS church is based in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., home to about 6,000 residents.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday February 12, 2008.
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