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article imageUtah Judge Won't Move Polygamist Trial

By Brandigal (Donna)     Mar 28, 2007 in Crime
A judge ruled Tuesday he would only move the trial of a polygamous-sect leader to Salt Lake City if he cannot seat a fair-minded jury.
Warren Jeffs, 51, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (not to be confused with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), is charged rape as an accomplice in the spiritual marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 19-year-old cousin in 2001.
The girl did not want to have sex with her cousin and prosecutors are saying they can prove that Jeffs used his position of trust as a church prophet to make this happen.
Jeffs also faces felony sex charges in Mohave County, Ariz., for his alleged role in 2 underage marriages and is under federal indictment for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
The defense wants the trial to be moved to Salt Lake City because they said it will be hard to find impartial jurors in Washington county. The Judge however said he does not want to move it but if impartial jurors cannot be found he will move it immediately.
They believe prospective jurors have been exposed to negative news reports about their client.
The judge does not know if this is true until he attempts to impanel a jury.
A poll was done that defense attorneys said shows that 52% of 210 Washington County respondents believe Jeffs is "definitely guilty. But in Salt Lake County 39% of 206 people thought him guilty."
The survey was conducted Feb. 5-14 and had an error margin of plus or minus 7 percentage points.
FLDS is a sect that broke away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the Latter Day Saints denounced polygamy in 1890.
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