A judge granted a motion Friday for prosecutors to take handwriting samples from five polygamous sect members accused in a truck-theft ring and who also are wanted for questioning in four Texas murders.
At a pretrial conference, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Gregory Martin gave defense lawyers until Tuesday to respond to the state's request for handwriting specimens.The defendants in the Arizona truck-theft ring included Heber LeBaron, 27 - a son of the late Ervil LeBaron, patriarch of a violent polygamous group known as the Church of the Lamb of God - and Douglas Lee Barlow, 28.
LeBaron and Barlow both face fugitive charges in Texas. LeBaron is wanted in connection with a Richardson, Texas, bank robbery. Barlow also is wanted in Texas, in connection with a Houston burglary.
Police in Houston and Irving, Texas, also have been questioning Barlow, LeBaron and the other three defendants - Richard LeBaron, Christina Adams and Melanie Ann Martin - in the June 27 murders of four people in the two Texas cities.
Three of the victims - brothers Mark and Duane Chynoweth and Eddie Marston - were former followers of Ervil LeBaron, who died of natural causes in the Utah State Prison in 1980 while serving a life sentence in the execution-style slaying of a religious rival. The fourth victim was Duane Chynoweth's 8-year-old daughter, Jennifer.
Utah officers also are interested in the five, in the Oct. 16, 1987, slaying of Daniel Ben Jordan, Bennett, Colo., at a deer hunting camp near Manti. Jordan was a former Ervil LeBaron lieutenant.
In Arizona, the suspects are charged with one count of conspiracy to control and conduct an illegal enterprise, one count of illegally controlling and conducting an illegal enterprise and 20 counts of theft.
Martin scheduled another pretrial conference for Sept. 30 and appointed a private investigator to assist Heber LeBaron's attorney, Tom Foster.
The defendants were being held in the Maricopa County Jail on $274,000 bail each. They were arrested July 1 in Phoenix.