Warren Jeffs allowed to represent self, says nothing

By Will Weissert

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, July 28 2011 9:00 a.m. MDT

The charges against him stem from a massive police raid in April 2008 at Yearning For Zion, a sect compound about 45 miles south of the oil and gas town of San Angelo, where Jeffs' trial is taking place. More than 400 children were placed in protective custody, and women who live on the compound appeared on TV airwaves across the country wearing their traditional, frontier-style dresses and hairdos from the 19th century.

Authorities moved in after receiving an anonymous call to an abuse shelter, alleging that girls on the compound were being forced into polygamist marriages. The call turned out to be a hoax, made by a woman in Colorado, and the children were returned to their families.

But police saw underage girls who were clearly pregnant — prompting the charges against Jeffs and 11 other FLDS men. All seven sect members who have been prosecuted so far were convicted of crimes including sexual assault and bigamy, receiving prison sentences of between six and 75 years.

Nichols late Thursday walked witnesses through birth certificates showing Jeffs alleged victims were 12 and 15, and that the defendant was at 49 and 50 years old at the time the alleged rapes occurred.

Testimony in coming days is expected to illustrate a DNA link between Jeffs, his alleged victim and her daughter. Nichols has also promised to play the recording of Jeffs having sex with the younger victim.

The proceedings moved surprisingly quickly because Jeffs raised no objections to any question from or evidence presented by the prosecution.

Wearing a dark suit, Jeffs said earlier in dismissing his attorneys, "the condition of my present defense is such that I cannot use them. They, not having all needed understanding for my defense, which wants for representation by one who knows and understands the facts of these truths."

Walther asked when he had arrived at the decision, and Jeffs launched into another long answer, assuring her that neither he nor his attorneys have "been idle."

"This has been a continued labor on my part, seeing counsel often have ideas different from the needs at hand," he said, adding that his defense team never "had a true understanding of the facts."

Still, Walther ordered all of Jeffs' previous attorneys to remain on as side counsel and asked him throughout the day if he was sure he wouldn't like to bring some or all of them back.

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