Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has put the Utah Supreme Court on notice he plans to appeal his conviction last year of two counts of rape as an accomplice.
According to court docket information, attorneys for Jeffs last week filed a notice of appeal with the supreme court. The notice is expected to be followed by a legal brief by Jeffs outlining why he thinks his conviction should be overturned. The state will then have an opportunity to file its reply brief.
The notice comes after 5th District Judge James Shumate denied Jeffs' request for a new trial. Jeffs was convicted by a Washington County jury for his role in arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. He is awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona.
The 52-year-old leader of the FLDS Church claims his rights were violated when one juror was dismissed and an alternate juror was seated after 13 hours of deliberations had already passed.
Attorneys for Jeffs say it was possible that the jury had already reached a verdict on the first count and had indicated to the court they were deadlocked on the second count when the juror was dismissed.Currently custody hearings are being held in Texas for 464 FLDS children taken at the group's YFZ Ranch in Eldorado. Among those children are several fathered by Jeffs. In what is expected to be weeks of court hearings, a Texas judge on Monday heard the first case of a 6-year-old boy said to be one of Jeffs' sons. Judge Barbara Walther approved a family service plan to reunite the boy with his mother by April 2009. The boy is currently in state protective custody in Amarillo.
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