Testimonies flood jury; Jeffs absent

Aug 6 2011 - 11:15pm

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs ruled with a heavy and abusive hand, several former followers testified Saturday, recounting how the man they once revered as a prophet banned parades, Sports Illustrated magazine and even the color red upon rising to power.

The second day of Jeffs' sentencing hearing later ended with a woman, now 28, tearfully alleging that Jeffs also sexually abused her as a young girl. Charges were never filed in that alleged incident. Three jurors cried during the woman's testimony, and state District Judge Barbara Walthers adjourned court until Monday.

The same jury convicted Jeffs on Thursday on charges of sexually assaulting two underage girls he had taken as brides in Texas. He faces up to life in prison, and jurors are likely to decide his punishment early next week.

For the second straight day, Jeffs wasn't in court. He walked out in protest Friday and has continued boycotting the proceedings, choosing instead to remain in another room of the courthouse.

Jeffs, 55, is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. More than 10,000 followers consider him God's spokesman on Earth.

One of them was Ezra Draper, who testified Jeffs threw out copies of Sports Illustrated and Car and Driver found in the boys' bedrooms. Books that featured talking animals were banned because Jeffs considered it teaching lies.

Jeffs also kept meticulous records -- as jurors found out during the conviction phase of the trial. One of the most uncomfortable pieces of evidence has been an audiotape of what prosecutors said was Jeffs sexually assaulting a girl when she was 12.

On Saturday, prosecutors presented Jeffs' lengthy instructions on building a bed in the all-white, top-floor room in the ranch's temple. The instructions were exact: 5-inch-thick table legs and padded sides on the bed while "the Lord does his work with me."

Jurors were shown the typed notes shortly after a nephew of Jeffs testified that his uncle sodomized him when he was 5. Brent Jeffs, now 28, said Warren Jeffs told him during the alleged assault that "this is God's work." Jeffs was never charged with sexually assaulting his nephew.

The Associated Press typically does not name alleged sexual assault victims, but Brent Jeffs has went public with his allegations including filing a civil lawsuit against his uncle in 2003. Brent Jeffs said the suit was settled in a deal that included him getting some land.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Jeffs fathered a child with one victim when she was 15.

Jeffs represented himself during the trial.


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