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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Judge denies Warren Jeffs a new trial

By Mark Havnes The Salt Lake Tribune

Posted: 3:54 PM-Fifth District Court Judge James Shumate today denied polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs' motion for a new trial.

Jeffs' legal team claimed his conviction for rape as an accomplice should be thrown out as one juror failed to disclose that she was a rape victim. When defense attorneys learned of the omission, they advocated for jury deliberations to continue with an alternate juror.

"The things we should have done, we didn't do," said defense attorney Richard Wright in court this afternoon.

"Jeffs had the right to a unity of verdict," he said. "The jury that convicted him can't be a conglomoration of jurors." Shumate ruled he didn't think replacing the problem juror had violated state law.

Defense attorney Walter Bugden said the ruling will now be appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals.

Jeffs, 52, is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The sect's Texas ranch was raided April 3 and hundreds of children were removed.

In September, Jeffs was convicted for his role in arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to an older cousin. He's now locked up in Arizona awaiting trial there.

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