Jeffs fathered baby with 15-year-old, DNA allegedly shows
San Angelo, Texas • The teenage girl in the photo looks like she might be a big sister holding the tiny baby in her arms.
But prosecutors say she is the infant's mother and that Warren Jeffs, the 55-year-old leader of her polygamous sect, is the baby's father.
A forensic DNA expert testified Monday in Jeffs' sexual assault trial there is a 99.99996 percent probability that Jeffs fathered the child.
The photo was one of dozens presented by prosecutors. They include images of the then-15-year-old while pregnant in 2005, and another of her posing with a portrait of Jeffs along with another pregnant sister wife.
The teen is one of two girls Jeffs is accused of taking as plural wives. The other girl was 12 when she allegedly became a child bride in 2006.
Several photos show Jeffs cuddling and kissing the 12-year-old.
The evidence was introduced to a West Texas jury despite a renewed attempt by Jeffs to remove District Judge Barbara Walther from the case.
Jeffs the leader of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints once again claimed Walther has a personal bias against him and members of the FLDS Church.
The recusal motion was supported by what Jeffs claimed were two recent revelations from God.
"I am to now recuse you from this case," Jeffs wrote in the motion, quoting "the Lord" and referring directly to Walther. "... I told thee to cease this unjust and intrusive way against a holy, pure way of religion on earth ..."
"Let also Barbara Walthers [sic] be of a humbling to know I have sent a crippling disease upon her which shall take her life soon,"Jeffs wrote.
Walther suffered from polio as a child, and walks with a limp.
The filing delayed the trial about an hour while Walther contacted a regional judge, who considered and denied the motion.
Prosecutors said they expect to finish their case Tuesday.
Jeffs, seated alone at the defense table and acting as his own attorney, rose at least 28 times Monday to object to testimony or evidence, but never cited a specific statute or legal precedent.
"This whole act is the result of an attack on a religious society," Jeffs said in a typical objection. Prosecutors countered that the charges were filed against only one person Jeffs.
Walther denied all such objections and began referring to them as "running trial objection Number 1."
At one point, prosecutor Eric Nichols responded to Jeffs by saying, "Religious freedom does not protect against prosecution for child sexual assault."
Jurors also heard about some of the billion or so pages of documents law enforcement seized from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in a massive 2008 raid. Lt. Jesse Valdez of the Texas Rangers said he found hundreds of file boxes in a vault in the temple annex.
Photographs shown to the jury showed the boxes had labels such as "Bishop Records" or "Priesthood Records." Some were labeled with the names of individuals. One box was labeled as "Personal Papers of Rulon Jeffs," who was Warren Jeffs' father and his predecessor as the FLDS prophet.
The vault was sealed. Rangers and a locksmith had to use a jackhammer to open it, Valdez testified.
Jeffs unleashed a flurry of objections when Ranger Capt. Aaron Grigsby began describing the interior of the temple on the ranch, which FLDS members consider sacred.
As Grigsby began describing a pair of murals on the second floor one with animals living harmoniously in the Garden of Eden and another where the animals are attacking one another Jeffs rose and objected by asking, "What relevance does this have, the description of the decor?"
Walther considered the objection but overruled it after prosecutor Eric Nichols said he would show the relevance later. Jeffs continued objecting, calling the temple a "sacred edifice," but Walther continued overruling and then began cutting off the objections.
"This is inappropriate, Mr. Jeffs," Walther said at one point. "I need you to confine your behavior to appropriate courtroom behavior."
On Monday afternoon, Rebecca Musser a wife of former FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs told jurors the FLDS faithful keep detailed birth and marriage records, and records of blessings they received, believing they must match records kept in heaven.
"If our names were not kept in that book with specific blessings, then we would be denied our exaltation," Musser said.
Musser, who left the FLDS Church in 2002 and has testified at previous trials of FLDS men, said the records used to be kept in a secret room at Rulon Jeffs' home in Salt Lake City, but followers were taught the records one day would be moved to a temple.
Musser said she was 19 when she married the 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs.
Warren Jeffs, who for years acted as a spokesman for his aged and stroke-disabled father, assumed leadership of the FLDS Church in 2002.
Jeffs is charged with one count each of sexual abuse of a child and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
There has been no indication that either alleged victim will testify against Jeffs. But prosecutors say they have plenty of other evidence, including an audio recording of Jeffs having sex with the 12-year-old.
If found guilty, Jeffs will be sentenced by the same Texas jury in a proceeding that could unleash evidence of hundreds of other so-called bad acts, including at least other 10 underage marriages that authorities have introduced in other courts. The penalty imposed could be up to life in prison.
Monday also marked the first time that Jeffs' brother, Lyle Jeffs, has appeared in court to observe. Lyle Jeffs is the bishop of Short Creek, the FLDS name for the twin cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.
While waiting outside the courtroom as prosecutors presented evidence seized from the 2008 raid, Lyle Jeffs told The Tribune: "We don't accuse anyone. They accuse us."
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