Jury finds Warren Jeffs guilty of sexual assault
A Texas jury found polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs guilty Thursday of two counts of sexual assault on a child.
Jeffs, who represented himself, remained stoic as the verdict was read. Jurors will deliberate again in the sentencing phase. The sect leader could face up to life in prison.
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours, beginning Thursday afternoon after Jeffs stood silently for most of his 30-minute closing argument.
It was the latest dramatic twist in a trial that has included sermon-like speeches about religious freedom and an audio recording that prosecutors allege documents Jeffs’ sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in the presence of three other “wives.”
Jeffs, who is representing himself, is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. The charges stem from a 2008 raid on a ranch his church operates near Eldorado, Texas.
During closing arguments Thursday, Jeffs stared at the table in front of him for most of his allotted block of time, as Judge Barbara Walther counted down.
He looked up at the jury when he reached the 20-minute mark, staring at each member. The jurors stared back.
Five minutes later, Jeffs mumbled, “I am at peace.”
The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke so quietly that people in the courtroom strained to hear him.