PHOENIX An attorney said he will probably ask a judge to move the trial of a polygamous-sect leader who faces felony charges tied to arranged marriages of teen girls and older men.
"We just need a community with enough distance away from the previous trial so that we can get jurors that are neutral, and, secondly, jurors who would not be criticized in the community if they rendered a fair verdict," Mike Piccarreta said Monday.
"Kingman is far too close to St. George," he said.
Piccarreta was referring to St. George, Utah, where Warren Jeffs was convicted of rape as an accomplice in the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
Jeffs, 51, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was sentenced last week to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison.
FLDS members live in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Jeffs' next criminal case is in Kingman in Arizona's Mohave County, but Piccarreta prefers to move it to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff or Prescott.
Speaking from his Tucson office, Piccarreta said Jeffs' ability to get a fair trial was damaged when a Utah judge refused to move his trial to Salt Lake City. Jeffs was convicted Sept. 25.
In Arizona, the felony charges center on marriages between two teen girls and older relatives. Jeffs is also charged as an accomplice to incest and sexual contact with a minor.
Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said holding the trial in Kingman would not be a problem.
"Until you see the motion, it's kind of hard to speculate, but I think that anybody can get a fair trial anywhere in the country," Smith said. "I don't think there's necessarily that much more publicity in Mohave County than there is anywhere else on the Warren Jeffs case. It's just a matter of questioning jurors individually."
Piccarreta accused prosecutors of persecuting Jeffs for his religion.
"We definitely cannot believe that Mr. Jeffs had any involvement as an accomplice to any type of sexual misconduct, so we definitely refute the charges," he said.