Quantcast
Home » News
Home » News

Prosecution defends marriage records in final day of Blackmore polygamy trial

Published May 8, 2017 8:52 am

Two church leaders are accused of having 29 marriages; each is charged with one count.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cranbrook, British Columbia • The trial of two Canadian fundamentalist church leaders charged with polygamy wrapped up Friday with the prosecution arguing that the bulk of marriage and personal records entered as evidence is corroborative.

Prosecutor Peter Wilson rejected suggestions from the defense that the records were unreliable in the trial of Winston Blackmore and Jim Oler, who are from the fundamentalist community of Bountiful in southeastern British Columbia, where residents are known for practicing a religion that condones plural marriage.

Blackmore's indictment lists 24 alleged marriages between 1990 and 2014, and Oler is accused of having five wives between 1993 and 2009.



Justice Sheri Donegan said she will set a date next week for her decision, but it will be months away.

Each man is charged with one count of polygamy.

Both men served as bishops for the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Blackmore's lawyer Blair Suffredine said in closing arguments Thursday that records presented as evidence, some of which were incomplete, were unreliable and that the Crown had to prove the accused had both a marriage and conjugal relationship with multiple women over 24 years.

The records, which were seized by police in 2008 when they raided the church's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, included marriage and personal records for members spanning the U.S. and into Canada.

Wilson told the court the documents as a whole contain corroborating evidence that fill in gaps for individual records.

Wilson also argued that the Crown does not have to prove the polygamous marriages were a continuous relationship, as suggested by Suffredine and Joe Doyle, a court-appointed lawyer who is there to ensure a fair trial for Oler, who is self-represented.

Wilson pointed to a constitutional reference case in 2011 that defined polygamy as a crime and that the harms outweigh the individual rights to freedom of religion.

Part of that ruling concluded the Crown does not have to prove relationships were ongoing or whether they lasted or not, just that a marriage or a conjugal union had occurred, Wilson said.

 

 

 

 

 

USER COMMENTS
Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
comments powered by Disqus