[Guest post by DRJ]
Raymond Jessop’s sexual assault trial continued today in Eldorado, Texas, and the Houston Chronicle reports 34 potential jurors remain out of a pool of approximately 300. Of the 17 FLDS members in the original jury pool, 7 were released because they are related to the defendant and it’s not clear how many remain. Fourteen jurors are needed (12 jurors and 2 alternates) and jury selection is expected to conclude tomorrow.
The Judge considered and rejected a defense motion — probably a Motion in Limine — to prohibit the prosecution from mentioning polygamy or plural marriage:
“State District Judge Barbara Walther heard Jessop’s defense team make another go at keeping Deputy Attorney General Eric Nichols and his team from discussing polygamy or plural marriages, common within the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, during the child sexual assault trial.
“How is it relevant?” Jessop’s attorney Mark Stevens asked Walther. “It is highly prejudicial.”
Nichols countered that the state the victim — a 16-year-old girl in 2005 — was living in is relevant and he made no promise not to introduce the fact that the victim was one of eight illegal marriages Jessop had.
“It is proof to the element of the crime,” Nichols said.
The judge refused to bar the mention of plural marriage or polygamy.”
It’s a tough call but IMO a Texas jury would be more inflamed by this testimony (if it’s admissible):
“In this case, evidence from journals belonging to FLDS’ jailed prophet Warren Jeffs indicates that Jessop had a child with an underage bride in 2005. Jeffs would not let church members take the girl to a hospital when she was in labor.
“All through the afternoon and evening I was in contact with (the YFZ Ranch), having the report as I called there that (Raymond Jessop’s wife) was struggling,” Jeffs wrote in his journal on Aug. 18, 2005. “She had been in labor for three days.”
Jeffs went on to detail how the girl had been tended to by Sally Nielsen, an FLDS member who was acting as the girl’s midwife.
According to Jeffs’ journal, Nielsen had consulted with Dr. Lloyd Barlow, who is also an FLDS member and has been charged with Jessop and other 10 FLDS men.
Jeffs said he turned to prayer. “I was yearning unto the Lord, even offering myself as the atonement for her to be blessed and deliver the child.” Taking the girl to the hospital was out of the question, Jeffs reasoned.
“I knew that the girl, being 16 years old, if she went to the hospital, they could put Raymond Jessop in jeopardy of prosecution as the government is looking for any reason to come again….”
The San Angelo Standard-Times analyzed what kind of jurors the defense might be seeking:
“The task before the defense is to not only choose a jury that will find Raymond Jessop innocent but also a jury that will mete out the minimum punishment if the 12 jurors do find him guilty.
[Texas Tech Law Professor Arnold] Loewy said defense attorneys are probably looking for jurors who will consider mitigating circumstances.
For instance, Raymond Jessop isn’t accused of snatching a girl off the street and raping her, but instead, he’s accused of sexually assaulting a girl considered his wife in the eyes of the sect members, Loewy said.
Being a member of the sect could also be another mitigating circumstance to be taken into account, he said.”
The Standard Times is covering this story every day but other reports are more sporadic. Some Utah papers and TV stations may be covering this, too. Please feel free to provide links in the comments if you run across other reports.