Polygamist leader mute during opening statement

AP News
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Posted: Jul 28, 2011 5:42 PM
Polygamist leader mute during opening statement

A Texas prosecutor says he'll present an audio recording of a polygamist sect leader raping a 12-year-old and show the 55-year-old man impregnated a 15-year-old.

Lead prosecutor Eric Nichols gave his opening statement Thursday in the sexual assault trial of Warren Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The sect is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy brings exaltation in Heaven.

The trial began shortly after District Judge Barbara Walther allowed Jeffs to defend himself.

When it was Jeffs turn to make an opening statement, he remained mute, sitting silently in his courtroom chair.

The charges against him stem from a massive police raid in April 2008 at Yearning For Zion, the church's compound in West Texas.