This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In a handwritten motion, polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is asking for a new trial on sexual assault of a child charges in Texas.
The motion for retrial relies on the violation of religious freedom argument Jeffs made as he represented himself last month. Jeffs, 55, was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he took as plural wives.
The one-page motion is written in the same rambling, archaic style that characterized Jeffs' speech at trial after he fired his team of high-profile attorneys. It was filed late Friday afternoon and appears to be written on lined, loose-leaf paper.
"The Constitutional protection for religious faith and freedom of practice not being of full protection in previous trial ... is legal grounds sufficient to rule in favor of defendant allowed a new trial ..." it reads.
Jeffs also asks for a new hearing on the suppression of evidence gathered in a massive 2008 raid on his followers' remote ranch in Eldorado, Texas. That evidence formed the basis of the case against him.
Throughout the trial, Jeffs voiced continual, rambling objections, asking for more time to prepare and saying the proceedings violated his freedom of religion, all of which were overruled. In his defense, he called a single witness a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints follower, whom Jeffs asked to read Mormon scripture for hours before state District Judge Barbara Walther declared the defense rested.
About three weeks after starting his prison sentence, Jeffs was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering unspecified medical problems while eating and drinking very little during a fast, according to Texas prison officials.
By the day the motion was filed, however, he had stabilized and was out of intensive care at a prison hospital. He remained in the hospital Tuesday with no projected release date, according to a prison spokeswoman.
Before the hospitalization, officials had decided to put him in protective custody to prevent possible violence from other inmates. He was housed in a solitary cell and only allowed out for two hours a day for a shower and recreation, though he could have visitors. It isn't clear what his situation will be upon his release from the hospital.
Jeffs had 30 days after his sentencing to file a motion for a new trial; the court now has 75 days to rule on a motion for new trial, according to the Texas rules of appellate procedure. Filing the motion for a new trial also gives Jeffs more time to file a notice of appeal 90 days from the day of sentencing rather than 30 days.
The Polygamy Blog: sltrib.com/blogs/polygblog
O Read Jeffs' motion for a new trial at sltrib.com.