A judge has set a March 3 trial date for John Daniel Kingston, a polygamist charged with felony child abuse for allegedly belt-whipping his daughter when she rebelled against an arranged marriage to her uncle.
The hearing had been set for Monday afternoon, but the 43-year-old Kingston's new attorney - Salt Lake defense lawyer Ron Yengich - had a scheduling conflict, a court clerk said.Yengich is new on the case and replaces lawyer Carl Kingston, the defendant's cousin and an attorney who represents the family's business affairs.
He's the second prominent defense attorney brought in to represent family members on criminal counts. John Daniel Kingston's brother, David Ortell Kingston, is being represented by Stephen R. McCaughey on a charge of incest and sexual abuse of a minor involving the same girl.
The girl says her father drove her to a remote family-owned farm in northern Box Elder County last May and whipped her for disobedience in her polygamous marriage to David Kingston. The girl said she was her uncle's 15th wife.
The incident has drawn attention to the secretive Kingston family, one of the state's most prominent polygamist groups. Family defectors say abuse and incest thrive within its ranks.
Indeed, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office has confirmed it has reopened an investigation into the 1992 death of a 15-year-old family member who died of complications during a pregnancy. Investigators believe the family refused to get the girl medical help for fear it would be revealed that the child was fathered by her half-brother.
"We're on it. In fact, we're pushing it a bit," sheriff's spokesman Jim Potter said Monday. He said the investigation will likely be given to the same detective handling the David O. Kingston incest investigation.
Meantime, Box Elder County sheriff's detective Scott Cosgrove said he's received a pair of anonymous death threats and a warning that his life might be in danger because of his investigation into the Kingston family.
"It's probably just some nut responding to the news," Cosgrove said Monday. "But the family is feeling the pressure, no doubt. Every day it seems like somebody turns over a rock and finds something else."