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Utah Supreme Court denies request for rehearing in FLDS leader Warren Jeffs case

Published: Monday, Dec. 20 2010 1:32 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has denied the state's request for a rehearing of the top court's decision to overturn polygamous leader Warren Jeffs' 2007 conviction of rape as an accomplice.

The three-sentence ruling did not include an explanation for the decision.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in August wanted the court to clarify why it decided to toss Jeffs' conviction.

"The state does not seek to change the result of the court's opinion," he wrote in the petition for a rehearing. "The state only seeks clarification on how to properly instruct a jury in this and other accomplice liability cases."

Citing an erroneous jury instruction, the state's high court overturned Jeffs' conviction on two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the "spiritual" wedding of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. In order for a jury to convict Jeffs of that charge, the court ruled, "the jury must find that Jeffs intended that the result of his conduct would be that" a rape occurred.

Jeffs last month was extradited to Texas  where he faces charges of bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault charges for incidents involving underage girls at the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. The charges stem from information gleaned from church and family records seized during a raid in April 2008.

Shurtleff has said that Utah prosecutors would wait until proceedings in Texas are finished before deciding whether to retry Jeffs in Utah.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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