August 9, 2011 in Nation/World

Jury hears recording of polygamist, girls

Paul J. Weber Associated Press
 

SAN ANGELO, Texas – Prosecutors seeking life in prison for convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs closed their case with a final barrage of graphic audiotapes, records of 24 alleged underage brides and writings that ordered followers to “fight to the death” when police eventually came for him.

The same jury that convicted Jeffs last week of sexually assaulting two of his child “brides” could now hand down their punishment as early as today. Even in prison, he could continue to lead the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Among the final pieces of evidence was an audiotape of Jeffs having sex and one of him telling five girls to “set aside all your inhibitions” as he gives his child brides instructions on how to sexually please him.

Jeffs’ attorneys rested without calling any witnesses as the sentencing phase drew to a close. Jurors will begin deliberating today.

Deric Walpole, Jeffs’ attorney, has indicated that his plea for leniency during closing arguments will focus on Jeffs being a product of his environment and a culture that hasn’t changed for centuries. Prosecutors dispute those claims, saying it was Jeffs who radically changed the FLDS culture after rising to power in 2002.

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