Utah officials announced today they are dismissing charges against polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs who is residing in a Texas penitentiary while serving a life sentence.
A Utah State prosecutor explained the decision was made not to bring the polygamist leader back for another trial because of the Texas conviction.
Wichita Falls law enforcement personnel including Texas Department of Public Safety troopers participated in a nationally-publicized raid of the Yearning For Zion polygamist ranch in 2008 which collected the evidence resulting in Jeffs convictions for sexually assaulting two underage girls he had married.
The prosecution team in Texas was supervised by Wichita Falls native and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
The decision to drop the Utah case was made with the consent of the victim and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
The Utah case revolved around allegations Jeffs performed an illegal marriage between Elisa Walls and her cousin against her will.
Prosecutors reported that she told them she was satisfied with the life sentence the State of Texas obtained against him and had no objections to the dismissal.
A spokesperson for Shurtleff’s office said there was little to be gained by pursuing their case in Utah since Texas law enforcement had obtained a life sentence in the Lone Star State.
Utah had previously prosecuted Jeffs, but the conviction was overturned because the Court of Appeals determined there was an error in the instructions to the jury.
The State of Arizona also earlier dismissed its’ sexually-related charges against the man with allegedly 78 wives.
One of those wives fled a polygamist compound where she was allegedly held against her will recently even though Jeffs is in the fourth month of serving his life sentence at a Texas prison unit.
Concern has been expressed that Jeffs still exercises control over the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints sect from his East Texas prison cell.
There are no reports as to whether Jeffs will try to replace Wife 78. Prison inmates being married is not unknown. However, Texas officials would not likely permit that to happen.
During his August trial Jeffs told the presiding judge that God did not want her overseeing his trial.
He also read a letter “allegedly” from God, although no one knows who transcribed the letter.
Jeffs made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List in 2006 for fleeing prosecution in Utah.
The dismissal of the Utah charges makes the life sentence obtained by Texas law enforcement even more significant.
Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year old girl and a 15-year old girl in Texas and sentenced to life plus 20 years on the two cases.
One of the girls became pregnant with this child.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office deserves credit for extraditing Jeffs from Utah and obtaining a maximum penitentiary sentence against him.
The Wichita Falls DPS Troopers who helped gather the evidence which locked Jeffs up also deserve credit.
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