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Former FLDS official's trial starts in West Texas

Published March 22, 2012 3:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Midland, Texas • Prosecutors are accusing a former lieutenant to polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs of illegally marrying at least three women in addition to his legal wife.

Wendell Loy Nielsen's trial on three counts of bigamy began with opening arguments Thursday in West Texas. Nielsen was one of 12 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who were indicted after a 2008 raid on their West Texas compound.

The San Angelo Standard-Times reports that jurors have seen photos of the compound, which included a temple, a school and a guard tower.

Nielsen faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

FLDS teachings hold that polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Mormon church abandoned the practice of taking multiple wives more than a century ago.