Jeffs jury resumes deliberations with alternate
Posted: 11:36 AM- ST. GEORGE -- Jurors in the trial of polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs have resumed their deliberations with a new member, after 5th District Judge James L. Shumate urged them to begin their analysis anew.
One of the eight jurors was excused this morning, for a reason that was not disclosed.
Four women had served as alternates, listening to all testimony and arguments in the rape as an accomplice case. They had been sent home Friday when the jury first began its deliberations.
But Shumate warned them they remained active jurors and asked them to consider themselves sequestered, meaning they were required to avoid talking to anyone about the case and to avoid media coverage.
Three of those women returned to the courthouse this morning, and one joined the jury.
Shumate asked the jury to start over, dismissing any comments, statements or positions taken by the released juror.
Daniel Medwed, an associate professor of law at the University of Utah, said there is not much scholarship on jury deliberations. It may be difficult at first for the new juror to join the others, who may be fatigued and feel invested in work they have already done, he said.
"This newcomer might come in with energy and full of ideas," Medwed said.
Medwed said the panel is likely to try to bring the new member "up to speed" on some issues.
The jury deliberated for about 11 hours Monday without reaching a verdict, but around 8 p.m. said they were close to decisions on the two counts. Earlier in the day, they had written to Shumate that they were deadlocked on the second count.
Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is charged with two counts of being an accomplice to rape related to a marriage he conducted in 2001 between Elissa Wall, who was 14, and Allen Steed, 19.
Prosecutors allege the first rape count occurred between April 23, 2001 - the day Jeffs conducted Wall's marriage - and May 12, 2001, when she and Steed took a trip to Canada to visit her sisters. The second count is alleged to have occurred between May 13, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2003.