Photos and records: Day 6 of Warren Jeffs trial

Published August 4, 2011 10:09 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A few additional notes on Day 6 of the Warren Jeffs trial (Monday Aug 1):In a day full of objections from Warren Jeffs, he seemed particularly animated when objecting to the law enforcement description of the temple - something the FLDS had wanted to build for years, and were able to construct after buying the property in Texas.Texas Ranger Capt. Aaron Grigsby described the interior of the soaring white building built in the West Texas desert as "very high quality," with "lush carpet," and "custom-made chairs."The first floor, he said, was done in earth tones, greens and browns. The second floor was "sky-blue" and white, with two murals - one with a Garden of Eden-like scene of animals in harmony, and the other in chaos. When he said that, Jeffs objected. "What relevance does this have, the description of the decor?" he said. Judge Walther asked prosecutor Eric Nichols to explain. "The state is painstakingly building the building blocks of the case," he said. She allowed it. And when they got upstairs, they found a top floor that was all white. "It was painstakingly matched, paint to carpet to chairs," Grigsby said. .....So far, Nichols has mainly let Jeffs make his speeches about religious freedom, sacred trust and accusations that the government is violating the peaceful FLDS people. But twice today, Nichols answered Jeffs head-on. About noon, during the testimony of the DNA expert: "This prosecution is unjust against a people being derided before the public," Jeffs said in his objection. "That is taking place which cannot be undone."Nichols answered: "This is not a proceeding against a people. This is a proceeding against a person named Warren Steed Jeffs who is charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child."And again, about 2:30 p.m.: Jeffs:"This is an injustice in court against a religious society. It must be stopped if there is justice true. This is a branch of government against a religious society. Our freedoms and our sacred ways are being compromised by allowing this to happen," he said. Nichols' response: "Neither the US Constitution nor any other affidavit provides protection to anyone engaged in child sexual assault. Furthermore, there is no protection accorded to the individual or any other operation with respect to cloak the act of sexual assault of children under the cloak of religious freedom." .... From Jesse Valdez, a lieutenant with the Texas Rangers: Valdez was one of the first law enforcement officers on the ranch. When police entered the temple and found the vault, they soon realized the thick steel door was surrounded by 12-inch-thick reinforced concrete. They tried to go at it with jackhammers, but it was tough going. Finally, they got a hole big enough for a person to fit through. Valdez, who's maybe 5-foot-5 and trim, was the only one small enough to fit, so with gun and flashlight in hand, he wriggled through. "So you went through the hole, with pistol and flashlight, not knowing who is in the hole, what is in there?" Nichols said. "Yes, sir," Valdez replied. What did he find? Rows and rows of cabinets full of tons of banker's boxes, safes and plastic bins, all stuffed with massive amounts of paper recording the important events of some 10,000 people. .....Rebecca Musser, who said she was married at age 19 to the then 84-year-old Rulon Jeffs, testified for about four hours on Tuesday. She wore a red button-up shirt. Her sister is Elissa Wall, the victim in the accomplice to rape case against Jeffs. She's testified in several FLDS trials in both Utah in Texas - including the 2007 Wall case. In the absence of a temple, the FLDS have kept their sacred records in a secret room, first inside the home Prophet Rulon Jeffs, and then in the house of his son Warren. She testified mainly to give background about FLDS ideas and traditions, and to authenticate the records and photos. During her 4-hour testimony, the prosecution presented a teaching Jeffs is said to have given his wives in 2003 titled "Detailed Training on Celestial Morals in the Intimate Marriage Relations."The evidence seemed to be there to establish there is a sexual component of a plural marriage. "To get close," Musser said, using a phrase from the teaching, "is to not resist what he tells you to do, even sex, even intimately." The prosecution also presented dozens of photos during her testimony, from snapshots of the 15-year-old alleged victim with her family to a montage of the 12-year-old alleged victim playing outside. They also presented pictures of the older victim with her brand-new baby, allegedly by Jeffs, a photo of her pregnant, and a picture of her posing with another sister wife and his portrait. They also presented a new set of pictures of Jeffs kissing and cuddling the younger girl, in addition to the ones we've already seen of him holding her in his arms and kissing her full on the mouth. In contrast to his frequent objections earlier, Jeffs interrupted only three times during Musser's 4-hour testimony.