Jury Starts Over in Church Leader Case
Posted Sep 25, 2007 12:42 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
After one day of deliberations, a jury in a high-profile Utah accomplice-rape trial against the leader of a fringe Mormon group reportedly was near a verdict on at least one of two counts. But then it was told to start deliberating again from scratch after the judge replaced one juror with an alternate.
Warren Jeffs, 51, who leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is accused of using his religious authority to pressure a 14-year-old girl into an unwanted marriage—and sex—with her 19-year-old first cousin. Although the jury reported yesterday that it was close to a verdict, a juror was replaced today with an alternate because of an unspecified "event," according to the Associated Press and CNN.
The case does not address the controversial church practice of encouraging polygamy. However, many see it as indirectly putting that issue on trial, as an earlier ABAJournal.com post discusses.