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Texas high court rejects Jeffs' appeal

Published May 16, 2012 5:28 pm

Polygamy • It's all but certain he'll serve out his life sentence.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused Wednesday to hear the case of imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, rejecting a brief promising biblical consequences if he isn't freed and exhausting his appeal options there.

Jeffs, 56, was convicted in August of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, who he took as plural wives. He was sentenced to life in prison. He has 15 days to file a petition for re-hearing in front of the high court.

Jeffs has represented himself since firing his team of high-profile attorneys during the trial. Following his conviction, he neglected his appeal and it was dismissed for lack of action in March.

The following month, he filed a petition for discretionary review in front of the highest criminal appeals court in Texas. Written in the form of three so-called revelations from God, it promised "whirlwind judgements" if he and other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints weren't freed.

The convictions came after a massive raid on the group's Yearning for Zion Ranch near remote Eldorado in 2008.

The documents filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals were dated November and December, indicating Jeffs had purposely ignored the lower appeals court in favor of the higher court.

Barring intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, the dismissal makes it all but certain Jeffs will serve out his sentence of life plus 20 years in prison, which would make him 100 before he is eligible for parole.

Jeffs nevertheless has so far apparently maintained communication with and control over the approximately 10,000 members of his sect. Along with imposing strict new rules for behavior, Jeffs has also instructed his followers to mail out thousands of copies of his other "revelations" to lawmakers and librarians all over the country, sometimes at a rate of more than once per week.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst

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