Judge sets trial dates for YFZ defendants
51st District Court Judge Barbara Walther set court dates last Thursday for defendants in several YFZ criminal cases. First among those is Raymond Merril Jessop who is facing charges of Sexual Assault of a Child, a first degree felony, and Bigamy, also a first degree felony. His trial is slated to begin on Monday, October 26, 2009 with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Friday, October 2, 2009.
Jessop's trial is to be held in Walther's Tom Green County courtroom with jurors being called from Schleicher County.
Interestingly, the state is asking to reduce the charges against Jessop to a second degree felony by "abandoning" an "enhancement" paragraph in his indictment. The move comes because the law allowing for the enhanced charge went into effect after the date of the alleged crime.
Lawyer agrees to YFZ cemetery visit
San Angelo attorney Amy Hennington notified anti-polygamy activist K. Dee Ignatin by letter last week that she will be permitted to visit the grave of three-year-old Allen Rulon Rhobock/Jeffs. The news comes just two weeks after Ignatin was turned away from the YFZ Ranch gate, reportedly on the advice of Ms. Hennington.
And, now comes word that the State of Texas has made it a crime to block access to a cemetery, even on private land. House Bill 1468, introduced by Representative Warren Chisum of Pampa, makes it a third degree misdemeanor to limit access to a cemetery. The law, which takes effect on September 1st of this year, unanimously passed the State House and Senate before being signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on May 30, 2009.
There was already a law on the books requiring landowners to allow access to private cemeteries prior to the passage of HB 1468, but the issue was civil in nature and not criminal.
Arizona authorities force feed Warren Jeffs
A court document filed Friday, July 31, 2009, reveal that Warren Jeffs' jailers in Arizona have been force feeding the FLDS prophet. Authorities have dealt with the polygamous leader's on-again off-again hunger strikes ever since he was transferred to the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, AZ.
The document said medical personnel started force feeding Jeffs on Friday when his physical condition worsened because he was fasting. A letter from the Kirsten Mortenson, the jail's medical director, to Judge Stephen Conn, said Jeffs' "death could be imminent without immediate medical intervention."
Religious exemption denied to YFZ Ranch
The Schleicher County Appraisal District has denied an application for religious exemption from property taxes at the YFZ Ranch.
An exemption had been requested for the large white temple and a second large building just east of the temple grounds identified as an "annex."
Chief Appraiser Jani Mitchell told THE SUCCESS on Wednesday that the district's decision had been communicated by letter to James Jerry Jessop, trustee of Texan Heritage Trust, the registered owner of the property.
Series of court battles loom for FLDS in Texas, Arizona and Utah
Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church (FLDS) are facing legal battles in Texas, Arizona and Utah in a series of criminal and civil cases.
Chief among those is the criminal trial of Raymond Merril Jessop. He stands accused of sexual assault of a child and first degree bigamy, both felonies under Texas statutes.
Jessop's case is slated to be tried before District Judge Barbara Walther. Plans have been made to bring a mobile courtroom from San Angelo and set it up in the Schleicher County Memorial Building.
The trial is set to get underway on Monday, October 26, 2009.
Jessop and ten others were indicted last year by a Schleicher County grand jury on charges ranging from sexual assault of a child and bigamy to performing an unlawful marriage ceremony.
Jessop child support case settled after trial begins
In what may become a landmark legal case in the history of the FLDS church, Carolyn Jessop won child support for some of her eight children, retroactive to the time she left her polygamous husband, Frederick Merril Jessop, in April of 2003.
A settlement in the case was announced late Tuesday during the second day of a trial before 51st District Judge Barbara Walther in San Angelo.
Ms. Jessop will receive a retroactive payment in an undisclosed amount. Additionally she will receive a monthly payment of $2,350.
Ms. Jessop who gained national fame when her book "Escape" made the best-seller list, is reported to have married Merril Jessop when she was 18 and he was in his 50s. She was his fourth wife.