2 Alamo Bible beliefs off limits, judge says
TEXARKANA – Prosecutors at evangelist Tony Alamo‘s trial will not be able to elicit testimony about Alamo’s beliefs that the Bible does not prohibit polygamy and that girls are ready to be married when they begin menstruating, a judge said Monday.
On the first day of Alamo’s trial in U.S. District Court in Texarkana, U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes also said that prosecutors and witnesses will not be able to refer to the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries as a “cult” or its complex in Fouke as a “compound.”
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He also said witnesses may not refer to marriage as a “sealing” or any punishment as a “proverb.” But he said victims may testify about being forced to fast as punishment.
Barnes outlined his ruling on a request by Alamo’s defense team after a day of culling a pool of potential jurors for Alamo’s trial on charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines from 1994-2005.
Wearing a loose-fitting charcoal suit and a gray-and-black striped tie, Alamo leaned back in his chair as Barnes and the attorneys spoke. He appeared to have lost weight since the last hearing in the case in October. His full beard has been trimmed to a neat mustache and goatee, now white instead of salt-and- pepper, and his thinning hair has turned from dyed black to gray.
Prosecutors had hoped to present jurors with “significant evidence” on Alamo’s views on polygamy, arguing that it helped explain why he took underage girls as wives. Prosecutors also had hoped to elicit testimony from as many as 13 women who are not named as victims in the indictment but have had sexual relationships with Alamo.
Defense attorneys said Alamo’s religious beliefs and relationships with adult women have no bearing on the charges and that the information would unfairly prejudice jurors.
Barnes made the ruling during a closed conference with attorneys last week, but the details weren’t known publicly until Monday.