Texas officials gather more DNA evidence for criminal case
The Texas Attorney General’s Office served a search warrant on Veda Keate, 19, in Converse, Texas, at the apartment where she is living with her 2-year-old daughter, sister and mother. Robert Switzer, a San Antonio defense attorney, arranged for Keate to meet with a nurse and two deputies.
Keate told The Salt Lake Tribune she and her daughter had given two previous DNA samples and she protested having to undergo a third collection. Keate said she asked why the AG’s office could not use samples taken by Texas Child Protective Services.
Switzer said he and Keate were shown an affidavit that said Texas authorities believe his client’s child was fathered by Jeffs when she was under the legal age of consent – which is 16 for a legal marriage and 17 for sexual contact when there is an age difference of three years or less.
The AG’s office collected about 600 DNA samples from FLDS parents and children after 51st District Judge Barbara Walther said the tests were necessary to prove parentage.
Switzer said that rather than seek a court order requiring CPS to share its DNA results, the AG’s office appears to want new evidence not attained by the “debacle” surrounding the initial investigation at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April.
Switzer said any evidence problems surrounding the search warrant used to enter the ranch also taints the new search warrants.
“How would they even know that [about Keate’s child] if it weren’t for the illegal raid on the ranch to begin with?” he said.
On April 3, investigators from CPS and the Texas Rangers raided the ranch after receiving a call from a woman who claimed to be an abused 16-year-old. That call was later traced to a Colorado Springs, Colo. woman with a history of making hoax abuse claims.
Authorities eventually removed 440 children from the ranch, which they said had been sexually, physically and emotionally abused. After two months in state custody, two Texas courts ruled a lower court judge did not have sufficient evidence of abuse to keep the children in custody and they were returned to their parents.
However, criminal and child welfare investigations continue. A grand jury met in Schleicher County in June and heard testimony from a half dozen FLDS women and other witnesses. The grand jury is set to hear additional testimony July 22.