Utah Court Reverses Warren Jeffs' Convictions, Orders Re-Trial
Date: Jul 28, 2010
Word Count: 1500 words
Cross-Reference: Warren Jeffs, Utah Supreme Court, Elissa Wall
Unanimously determining that the lower court had given improper instructions to the jury in the original 2007 trial, the Utah State Supreme Court reversed the two "felony rape as an accomplice" convictions of Warren Jeffs - leader of the breakaway Mormon sect, the FLDS – for his ordering the arranged marriage of an unmarried 19 year old young man to his 14 year old cousin, Elissa Wall.
On July 27, 2010, in a unanimous 4-0 decision, the Utah Supreme Court reversed the two convictions of Warren Jeffs and ordered a re-trial.
The leader of the breakaway Mormon sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Jeffs had been convicted in Utah, in 2007, of two counts of felony rape as an accomplice. The convictions pertained to Jeffs being the religious leader who ordered the 2001 arranged marriage of an unmarried young man who was only 19 to his 14 year old cousin. Notwithstanding that many media erroneously labeled Jeffs as a "polygamist leader," the case only involved arranged marriage, under-aged marriage, and incest in a rogue Mormon sect. But it never involved polygamy.
At the time of Jeffs' convictions, Allen Steed - the teenager who had been 19 at the time of the arranged marriage - had not even been charged with rape. As the Associated Press reported, "Steed was charged with rape the day after Jeffs' September 2007 conviction, but the case has languished and it's unclear how it might now proceed." No court has yet determined a conviction that the actual crime of rape itself had occurred. The lower court had convicted Jeffs of being an accomplice to a crime while the actual crime, itself, had not yet been proven by conviction.
So, as according to The Washington Times, "The court declared a mistrial on the grounds that jurors were wrongly told they could decide in judging Mr. Jeffs whether the marital relations between Miss Wall and Mr. Steed were consensual. Mr. Steed was not charged with rape, pending Mr. Jeffs' conviction, and still has not been tried."
The Associated Press explained, "In its ruling Tuesday, the court agreed with defense attorneys who argued that jurors should not have been told to decide whether Wall's marital relations were consensual based on Jeffs' actions and his role as her religious leader. That essentially equates Jeffs with Steed - the person who allegedly has had nonconsensual sex. Justices said prosecutors were wrong to make that leap."
Both of those media reported that the Court's justices wrote, "Only after there is a determination that an offense has been committed can the law impose liability on another party who 'solicited, requested, commanded, encouraged or intentionally aided' in the commission of that offense."
The prosecution has the option to request a rehearing before the Utah Supreme Court. If no request is made by August 10, 2010, the re-trial proceeds back down at the 5th District Court. Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura DuPaix "said no decision has been made about whether to prosecute Jeffs again," the Associated Press reported. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said, "it would be tough to retry him here because we don't have much to hold him on as an accomplice to rape," The Washington Times reported.
Beyond even the issues raised by the Utah Supreme Court's decision, a re-trial of Jeffs' case might be less likely to achieve convictions. Emerging evidence about Elissa Wall has been raising valid credibility concerns.
The Associated Press reported, "Jeffs faced charges of accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor in Arizona, but they were dismissed last month after prosecutors said the two alleged victims no longer wanted to proceed with prosecution."
Back on June 10, 2010, a report at Pro-Polygamy.com reported that AZCentral had reported that Jeffs' defense attorney Michael Piccarreta - speaking about the dismissal of the charges in Arizona - "said he believes the charges were dismissed because the victim, the chief accuser in the government's case, made false statements during the Utah trial and to officials in Arizona that undermined her credibility... (He) said a midwife who was scheduled to be a witness in the Arizona case recently admitted re-creating and backdating records of Wall's miscarriage, an event that verified the marriage was consummated while she was underage. According to Piccarreta, Wall misrepresented the medical records during Jeff's first trial in St. George, Utah, and during a more recent discovery interview."
Over a month later, the Associated Press reported that the July 27, 2010, "ruling from Utah's high court comes as Washington County authorities investigate allegations that Wall may have lied about her medical records that were used in the trial. County Attorney Brock Belnap launched an investigation in February after he was told by a third party that Wall's 'medical records had all been created in one day to make it look like she had seen a caretaker on several different occasions.'"
In an extremely more-than-unusual co-incidence, ABC re-broadcast its anti-polygamy episode of "What Would YOU Do?" on the very same night that the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs' convictions in the case involving Elissa Wall. Hosted by the most dishonest media personality about polygamy throughout all the media, John Quiñones, the anti-polygamy segment had teamed up with Elissa Wall. They hired actors to dress up in stereotypical FLDS clothing and pretend to be "polygamists" forcing polygamy on a 15 year old "child-bride" actress in a public restaurant.
After that anti-polygamy propaganda - of invented fiction - first aired on ABC in 2009, National Polygamy Advocate, Mark Henkel, composed a comprehensive Special Report about it. The article-description explained, "On March 17, 2009, ABC-TV's new 'unreality' show, 'What Would YOU Do?,' teased the question for one of its segments, asking, 'How far would you go for money and fame?' The host, John Quinones, asked someone on the show, 'So you would lie for money?' But the reality is – as yet again proven in a separate set-up segment with actors pretending to be 'polygamists' in the same episode - John Quinones, himself, has repeatedly lied for money and fame.' That Special Report was distributed to the media through Pro-Polygamy.com on April 3, 2009.
The third section of that Special Report specifically reported about Elissa Wall's turning her actual suffering into dishonesty for money-making. Before exposing her dishonesty, the Special Report made it adamantly clear: "Without question, the hearts of such regular pro-polygamists around the country had always gone out to Elissa Wall for what that Mormon sect had forced upon her."
The Special Report then explained, "Elissa Wall... had come out of the FLDS - that same, one criminal sect about which Quiñones repeatedly used in order to slander all normal polygamists. ...She embraced Quiñones' offer and allowed her real story of cult-style abuse by the FLDS to be erroneously misused. She allowed Quiñones to slander all consenting-adult pro-polygamists whose hearts otherwise deeply sympathize with her."
Identifying the reason why Elissa Wall had allowed herself to be so used, the Special Report revealed the evidence, "Her motivation to allow Quiñones' deception was revealed on the show: Elissa Wall stood to make money and fame by selling a book she had written about the FLDS, ...as if being about 'all polygamy.' Hence, Elissa Wall had (disappointingly) fully sold out, seeking to earn money and fame by allowing her story of real cultish abuse in the FLDS Mormon sect to thereby falsely imply that it had anything to about polygamy - when it did not."
Even when the Associated Press reported the Utah Supreme Court overturning Jeffs' convictions, the reporter, Jennifer Dobner, also mentioned Elissa Wall's book.
With such increasing evidence of Elissa Wall's dishonesty, there is a very real possibility that she may choose to decline to testify in any re-trial. If she had participated in any false testimony or falsification of evidence in the previous trial, then Elissa Wall, herself, could face criminal charges. If that is the case, she would have strong motivation to not testify again against Jeffs in a re-trial. And if she did refuse to testify, not only would that refusal strongly implicate her own likely guilt of alleged false testimony or of alleged falsification of evidence, but it also could possibly force the Utah prosecution to actually "have" to drop the Utah charges against Warren Jeffs.
In the meantime, Texas has been seeking to extradite Jeffs to that State. As the Associated Press reported, "Texas authorities used family records gathered during a 2008 raid on a church ranch near Eldorado to charge Jeffs with bigamy, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault. The charges allege marriages between Jeffs and girls ages 17 and 15 in 2005. In an e-mail to The Associated Press last week, Bugden said Jeffs intends to oppose extradition. It's expected that Texas authorities will have to start a new proceeding to continue efforts to extradite Jeffs."
Considering its options in Utah, "The Utah Attorney General's office has not decided whether to retry Mr. Jeffs but will hold him until it can turn him over to Texas, according to department spokesman Paul Murphy. The federal government also has a warrant out against Mr. Jeffs for unlawful flight, he said," reported The Washington Times.
Regardless of what happens with the various States' cases against Jeff's very real criminality, the National Polygamy Rights Movement for Consenting Adults has always, consistently, and vehemently declared its opposition to arranged marriage, under-aged marriage, and Warren Jeffs.
"Utah court reverses polygamist leader convictions"
"Utah court reverses polygamist's convictions"
"Arizona Dismisses Charges Against Criminal Warren Jeffs"
"Warren Jeffs sees Arizona rape charges dropped"
Mark Henkel - National Polygamy Advocate
"John Quiñones Lies in "Unreality" on ABC-TV"
"Warren Jeffs was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement"
"Polygamy Movement Opposes Warren Jeffs, Says National Polygamy Rights Leader"
"FLDS is far more 'Mormon sect' than 'Polygamist sect'"
"FLDS was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement - Quotes"
"Lifting the Veil on Polygamy -
Plural Marriage Advocates Defend the Practice From What They Say Is a Bad Rap"
[Reviewed for publication - Pro-Polygamy.com Review Board.]