Lawyers spar throughout YFZ evidence hearing
Lawyers representing 10 defendants from the YFZ Ranch spent four days last week questioning events that led up to last year's raid on the property.
The defendants are charged with crimes including sexual assault of a child and bigamy. Their lawyers argued that lawmen failed to investigate calls for help from a woman purporting to be a pregnant and abused child bride at the YFZ Ranch, named Sarah Jessop Barlow. Those calls are now widely belived to have been placed by a Colorado woman named Rozita Swinton, a person with a history of making hoax phone calls.
The defense also argued that law enforcement officers failed to provide Judge Barbara Walther with all the evidence about those calls before she issued the the search warrant that led to the 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch.
Rozita - A look at the woman whose calls led to the YFZ raid
The public is getting its best glimpse inside the investigation of Rozita Swinton, and a series of hoax phone calls she allegedly made to family crisis shelters across the nation. Some of those calls allegedly sparked last year's raid on the YFZ Ranch. Now, thanks to police evidence and sworn affidavits that came to light during an evidence suppression hearing held before 51st District Court Judge Barbara Walther, the episode can be better understood.
Rozita Swinton was met by lawmen from two states on April 16, 2008, as she approached her apartment located at 4625 Templeton Park Circle in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Texas Rangers Philip Kemp and Jess Malone were joined by Colorado investigators Payton Patterson and Terry Thrumston who informed Swinton that a warrant had been issued and her apartment was being searched.
Activist seeks to visit YFZ Ranch cemetery
The cemetery at the YFZ Ranch contains at least three bodies and K. Dee Ignatin, an anti-polygamy activist from Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex wants to visit the site and pay her respects.
Ignatin, who heads up a group called Americans Against the Abuses of Polygamy, has close ties to Flora Jessop, one-time member of the FLDS church who is now its most outspoken critic.
She accompanied Jessop across Texas in recent weeks on a tour promoting Jessop's newly released book, "Church of Lies."
Ignatin now plans to visit the YFZ Ranch, possibly as early as this week. Coincidentally, Friday of this week is the four-year anniversary of the death of Barbara Jeffs, late wife of FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs, who succumbed to cancer in 2005. Hers was the first body buried in the YFZ cemetery.
Ignatin cites the Texas Health and Safety code which she says give
Polygamy activist denied access to YFZ cemetery
K. Dee Ignatin showed up at the YFZ Ranch gate last Thursday, just as she promised, and asked to visit the ranch's cemetery. Her request was denied, although at first it appeared as if she might be allowed on the property.
The anti-polygamy activist said she was "very respectful" with her request and offered to wear appropriate attire while on the ranch. In fact, she changed into a long-sleeved blouse and ankle-length skirt and removed magnetic stickers from her pickup that stated "Polygamy is Abuse."
She said her intent was to visit the grave of and pay respects to three-year-old Allen Rulon Rhobock/Jeffs who died in an automobile accident at the ranch on October 26, 2006. A mini-van in which the boy was riding reportedly struck a large boulder, sending the unrestrained child flying over the back seat where he struck his head and died.
YFZ defendants ask judge to toss evidence from raid
San Antonio attorney Gerald Goldstein filed a long-awaited 103-page brief Monday in 51st District Court. In it, he asks Judge Barbara Walther, on behalf of his clients, Frederick Merril Jessop and other YFZ Ranch defendants, to suppress evidence taken from the ranch during the now famous YFZ Raid that began the evening of April 3, 2008.
Goldstein's brief argues that Texas law enforcement, specifically Sheriff Schleicher County David Doran and Texas Ranger Brooks Long should have known that the call that prompted the raid was a hoax. Goldstein also argues that lawmen "fully intended to lay siege to this community, interrogate hundreds of children, and rummage through the 'multiple' residences and religious structures located therein."
Goldstein's brief came two months after a four-day long evidentiary hearing and more than a month after Deputy Attorney General Eric Nichols filed his brief in the case.
YFZ pre-trial hearings scheduled Thursday
Pre-trial hearings are slated for defendants in the YFZ Ranch cases at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, 2009 in District Judge Barbara Walther's courtroom in San Angelo. Perhaps that's when the judge will hand down here long-awaited ruling concerning the evidence gathered from the ranch during last year's 6-day-long raid.
Defense attorney Gerald Goldstein has repeatedly argued that the raid was prompted by a phone call that Texas lawmen knew, or should have known, was a hoax. He has petitioned the judge to throw out all of the evidence seized during the raid.
Only last week, attorney Goldstein filed two "offers of proof" in which he says that if he is allowed to call two witnesses, Dan Edwards, a CPS investigator, and law professor Gerald Reamy, they will offer evidence damaging to the state's case.