A battle over evidence seized from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's Texas ranch will be delayed until at least May, prosecutors in Arizona said Monday.
"Our evidentiary hearing is not going to take place until after Texas' evidentiary hearing," Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith's office said in an e-mail to the Deseret News.
Lawyers for FLDS leader Warren Jeffs are seeking to keep any evidence taken from the YFZ Ranch out of his upcoming trials in Kingman, Ariz., on charges of sexual conduct with a minor, accusing him of performing underage marriages. A judge in Mohave County Superior Court set a Friday deadline to know lawyers' plans for any evidence issues.
Jeffs' criminal defense team has accused Texas and Arizona authorities of stymieing their efforts to determine the origins of the controversial raid, where 439 children were taken into state protective custody in response to a phone call alleging abuse. The call is believed to be a hoax, and Jeffs' attorneys have challenged the Texas search warrants in an Arizona court.
Prosecutors in Arizona have said they do not intend to use evidence taken from the ranch in Jeffs' upcoming trials, but Judge Stephen Conn seemed unconvinced and said in a recent ruling that a hearing may be necessary.
In Texas, a judge has scheduled a May hearing on a challenge to the search warrants in connection with several criminal cases pending there against FLDS men. A dozen men, including Jeffs, have been indicted by an Eldorado grand jury on charges ranging from sexual assault of a child and bigamy to failure to report child abuse and performing an illegal marriage ceremony.
Recent depositions of Texas law enforcement taken by Jeffs' attorneys also revealed a federal grand jury investigation into the FLDS Church. Jeffs, 53, was convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.