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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.




###


Bibliographic URLs:


"Utah court reverses polygamist leader convictions" 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100727/ap_on_re_us/us_polygamist_leader_appeal_9 
 
"Utah court reverses polygamist's convictions" 
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/27/utah-court-reverses-polygamists-convictions/ 
 
 
 
 
"Arizona Dismisses Charges Against Criminal Warren Jeffs" 
http://www.pro-polygamy.com/articles.php?news=0074 
 
"Warren Jeffs sees Arizona rape charges dropped" 
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/09/20100609warren-jeffs-arizona-rape-charges-dropped09-ON.html 
 
 
 
 
Mark Henkel - National Polygamy Advocate 
http://www.nationalpolygamyadvocate.com 
 
"John Quiñones Lies in "Unreality" on ABC-TV" 
http://www.pro-polygamy.com/articles.php?news=0066 
 
 
 
 
"Warren Jeffs was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement" 
http://www.pro-polygamy.com/articles.php?news=0056 
 
"Polygamy Movement Opposes Warren Jeffs, Says National Polygamy Rights Leader" 
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/09/prweb552208.htm 
 
"FLDS is far more 'Mormon sect' than 'Polygamist sect'" 
http://www.pro-polygamy.com/articles.php?news=0059 
 
 
"FLDS was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement - Quotes" 
http://www.pro-polygamy.com/articles.php?news=0058 
 
 
"Lifting the Veil on Polygamy - 
Plural Marriage Advocates Defend the Practice From What They Say Is a Bad Rap" 
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=5396768&page=2 
 
 
 
 
 
[Reviewed for publication - Pro-Polygamy.com Review Board.]



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