Jeffs Defends Polygamy at Trial

Jud Burkett / AP Photo

Warren Jeffs looks at one of his attorneys during Jeffs' sentencing on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007, in St. George, Utah. A judge sentenced Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to five years to life in prison for his role in the arranged marriage of teenage cousins. Jeffs, 51, was convicted earlier of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.

Warren Jeffs read a statement allegedly from God defending polygamy Friday at his sexual-assault trial. Jeffs, acting as his own lawyer, threatened “sickness and death” on the trial’s participants in an hourlong outburst in which he also insisted that Texas authorities who raided his compound in 2008 had violated his religious freedom. Jeffs, a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been charged with sexually assaulting two young girls and forcing them into a “spiritual marriage.” He fired his defense team at the start of the trial Thursday, while prosecutors said they had audiotape of a sexual encounter between Jeffs and a 12-year-old girl.