A Tom Green County jury deliberated just over an hour Wednesday before returning with a guilty verdict against Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, of the YFZ Ranch. He was convicted of sexual assault of a child, in connection with his marriage to an underage polygamous bride. The jury also agreed with the first-degree enhancement, meaning Jessop could face up to 99 years in prison.
The enhancement was an option because the crime took place after a new law went into effect in 2005.
Jessop was immediately taken from the courtroom in handcuffs as the jury and court personnel took a 90-minute lunch break. Judge Walther ordered everyone to return after lunch so the penalty phase of the trial could get underway.
The punishment phase of the trial was underway as The Success went to press Wednesday afternoon. Any new developments will be posted on our website at www.myeldorado.net and sent by email to our E-Delivery subscribers.