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Warren Jeffs resigns as leader of the FLDS Church

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5 2007 3:03 p.m. MST

ST. GEORGE — Jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs resigned his role as president of The Fundamentalist LDS Church on Nov. 20, the same day he was sentenced to two terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison.

The revelation was released in a statement issued today by Jeffs' Salt Lake City attorneys, Wally Bugden and Tara Isaacson, in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.

"Mr. Jeffs has asked that the following statement be released to the media and to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," according to the complete statement. "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc., on November 20, 2007."

Jeffs, 52, was convicted of two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in conducting a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old bride, Elissa Wall, and Allen Steed, her 19-year-old cousin.

Steed was charged with rape a day after testifying on behalf of Jeffs and has filed motions to change the trial's venue and drop the charge.

Attorneys for Jeffs on Tuesday filed a motion in Fifth District Court for a new trial. According to the motion, a new trial is warranted under Utah criminal procedure rules because "errors and improprieties occurred during the trial."

Those errors and improprieties, they say, affected Jeffs' constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.

The motion offers no detail or insight into what kind of errors and improprieties the defense believes occurred during Jeffs' trial. During the final hours of jury deliberation, Judge James Shumate released a female juror from the panel and replaced her with an alternate juror.

At the time, the judge said there had been "an event" with the juror who was replaced. Less than three hours after the juror was replaced, the new jury panel returned with guilty verdicts on both counts.

Salt Lake City defense attorneys Bugden, Isaacson and Richard Wright of Las Vegas had unsuccessfully argued for a dismissal of charges and a change of venue early in the proceedings.


E-mail: nperkins@desnews.com

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