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article imagePolygamist Warren Jeffs sentenced to life

By KJ Mullins     Aug 9, 2011 in Crime
San Angelo - After deliberating for less than one hour, jurors have sentenced Warren Jeffs, 55, to life in prison Tuesday. The polygamist sect leader was found guilty last week of having sex with underage girls.
According to the The Salt Lake Tribune jurors returned in just 40 minutes this morning with the life sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child, and another 20-year sentence for the sexual assault of a child. Jeffs has also been fined $10,000.
The trial hinged on two of his 78 marriages. Those marriages were with a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. According to evidence, nearly one third of Jeffs' brides were 16- or 15-years-old at the time of their marriage.
Jeffs represented himself during the trial and did not attend his sentencing hearings. The case was rested with Jed Silverman, a defense lawyer who was appointed to the case. Silverman did not call any witnesses.
When authorities raided his compound in 2008, they found Jeffs had documented his life with recordings and journals of every detail of his marriages. Those documents were used to convict the man who prosecutors said had sexually assaulted a 12-year-old bride in front of several of his other wives.
During the trial, Jeffs said the case was attacking his religion. According to his own writings, however, he knew the public and officials would "hang me from the highest tree" if they discovered what he was doing.
The sect leader's own nephew and niece testified during the weekend about abuse they are alleged to have suffered from Jeffs' hands. According to Brent Jeffs, 28, he was raped at the age of 5.
CNN reports that the younger Jeffs said, "He began to tell me that we were going to do God's will. This is between me, you and God."
It is believed that Jeffs sect has around 10,000 followers. Their sect is a branch of the Mormon Church.
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