A judge Friday ordered five members of a polygamist sect to produce handwriting samples for use in the prosecution of an alleged vehicle-theft ring.
The five were Heber LeBaron, 24; his half-brother, Douglas Lee Barlow, 27; Cynthia LeBaron, whose age was unknown; Tarsa LeBaron, 22; and Richard LeBaron, 17. The family relationships among them were unclear, but all belong to the Church of the Lamb of God, which detectives believe is linked to more than 20 killings.They were indicted July 19 on charges relating to vehicle theft. All have been held since their July 1 arrest at a Phoenix motel.
Ervil LeBaron, father of Heber LeBaron and Douglas Barlow and the clan's patriarch, died in the Utah State Prison in 1981 while serving a life term for murder.
Although facing identical 22-count indictments, the five were brought to Maricopa County Superior Court one-by-one, delaying the court calendar. In previous hearings they had been brought in one group.
Deputies said the procedure was standard in high-profile cases with multiple defendants for "security reasons."
Judge Gregory Martin said the defendants would have to submit samples of their handwriting for comparison with notes and other samples being gathered by the prosecution.
Martin also continued the pre-trial conferences to Sept. 30 and allowed the LeBarons' court-appointed attorneys until Monday to answer prosecutor Randy Wakefield's request to amend their indictments. His motion requests technical changes in dates and wording of the indictments.
FBI agents and Houston, Dallas and Utah police officers have questioned the defendants in four Texas slayings of former cult members and another in Utah. Ervil LeBaron allegedly compiled a hit list with the names of cult defectors who were to be killed.
Police here still are seeking several other members of the LeBaron family for questioning, spokesman Andy Hill said Friday.
One was one of Ervil LeBaron's wives, Linda Ray Johnson.