Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' defense attorneys are expressing concerns about a probation officer's attempts to interview the polygamist leader for an upcoming sentencing report to the judge.
In an Oct. 12 letter written to probation officer Denise Gilgen and filed in St. George's 5th District Court on Wednesday, defense attorney Wally Bugden said there were a number of problems unique to Jeffs' situation. Arizona has filed criminal charges against Jeffs, based on the same allegations that were used in the Utah prosection.
"Mr. Jeffs is on the horns of a dilemma," Bugden wrote. "Should he participate in the preparation of a pre-sentence report, and submit himself to an interview with you, any of his statements made in reference to the Utah prosecution can and will be utilized as evidence against him in the Arizona prosecution."
Jeffs was convicted last month of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. In Arizona, Jeffs is facing charges of sexual misconduct with a minor as an accomplice, and incest as an accomplice.
Before Jeffs is sentenced in Utah on Nov. 20, the judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation. Such a report typically includes detailed background information, a defendant's statement and recommendations which help a judge determine an appropriate sentence.
In his letter to Gilgen, Bugden noted there is no fifth amendment privilege that could protect Jeffs' statements in connection with the pre-sentence report, and it would not be in Jeffs' best interest to participate."I believe that protecting Mr. Jeffs' right against self incrimination as protected by the constitutions of both Utah and the United States compels the conclusion that he should continue to exercise his right to remain silent and thereby forego a pre-sentence report interview with you," Bugden wrote.