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Texas, feds wait turns in polygamist leader cases

•  Law Center     updated  2010/07/29 09:24

A Utah Supreme Court decision that overturns polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs' 2007 criminal conviction won't automatically make him a free man. Even if Utah doesn't retry him, Texas and federal prosecutors are waiting to move forward with their own cases.

Justices on Tuesday unanimously said Jeffs should get a new trial because state attorneys overreached in their argument that performing the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin amounted to facilitating a rape.

Utah officials now have two weeks to seek a rehearing before the state's high court and then a month to decide if they'll retry the 54-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on charges of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice.

A judge Wednesday set an Aug. 18 date for a hearing on a motion from Jeffs' defense attorneys seeking a "speedy trial before a jury of his peers."

Meanwhile, authorities in Texas are trying to get Jeffs sent there to face charges in connection with his own alleged marriages to underage girls in 2005. A federal indictment stemming from Jeffs' stint as a fugitive on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list is also pending.

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