ELDORADO — After being sent out to deliberate at 10:45 a.m., a Schleicher County jury returned a verdict of guilty for Abram Harker Jeffs at 11:40 a.m., less than an hour.
Jeffs, 39 and a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was charged with sexual assault of a child. He is the latest in a series of men from the YFZ Ranch, an FLDS community near Eldorado, to be prosecuted on child sexual assault charges since the state raided the ranch two years ago.
The state alleged that Jeffs assaulted a girl with whom he was in an FLDS “spiritual” or “celestial” marriage on May 12, 2006, when Jeffs was 34 and already legally married and when the girl was 15.
Nichols referred to evidence from two DNA tests and documents that were seized from the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County during the April 2008 raid that resulted in the state getting hundreds of documents while taking more than 400 children from the ranch. The latter decision was reversed by an appellate court and the children were returned.
“You don’t have to believe it just because they tell you,” defense attorney Brandon Hudson said.
Hudson has objected and told the jurors that they shouldn’t give any weight to the evidence that was gathered as a result of the raid and that the raid violated his client’s rights because the seizure was based on what law enforcement personnel have concluded was a hoax phone call from a woman claiming she was being abused on the ranch.
Hudson also said nothing attached his client to many of the church records, noting that the records were kept “secret and sacred,” among even the FLDS, and he said that dictations from then-leader Warren Jeffs were at times the product of dreams and not necessarily reliable, especially in light of cover sheets that said, “incomplete” and “unapproved.”
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