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Jeffs Indictment Not Thrown Out

August 26, 2008

By Ben Winslow Deseret News

A judge in Kingman, Ariz., has declined to throw out an indictment against Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn released his ruling late Monday, denying a motion by Jeffs’ attorneys to remand the case back to the grand jury. In a 14-page ruling, Conn noted the massive amounts of publicity coverage surrounding the case, but said there was nothing to show it deprived Jeffs of a fair and impartial grand jury.

Jeffs’ defense attorney Michael Piccaretta argued that prosecutors also presented misleading, false and prejudicial information to the grand jury to secure the indictments. Conn said he did not believe prosecutors undermined the fairness of the grand jury presentation.

Piccaretta said he plans to appeal Conn’s decision.

“We felt that there should have been more inquiries into whatever biases and prejudices the grand jurors had before they heard the case,” he said. “We wanted a fair and unbiased grand jury. We wanted it returned so we could obtain one, and the judge disagreed.”

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith’s office did not immediately offer any comment.

Jeffs, 52, is charged with four counts of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor, accusing him of performing underage marriages. The judge previously dropped incest charges.

Piccaretta also plans to challenge Mohave County prosecutors’ plan to use evidence seized in the raid on the FLDS Church’s YFZ Ranch in Texas.

Jeffs is serving a pair of 5-to-life sentences after being convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

Contributing: Associated Press

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com

(c) 2008 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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