Texas state prosecutors have rested their case against Warren Jeffs, the polygamist sect leader charged with the sexual assault of two young girls, on Wednesday, after playing an audiotape of him allegedly having sex with his 12-year-old victim.
District Judge Barbara Walther called a two-hour recess after the prosecution rested its case and then ordered Jeffs, who is acting as his own attorney, to present his defense.
Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutors played the 21-minute audio recording in which 55-year-old Jeffs is heard panting throughout.
"Feeling your spirit and witness of peace, burning peace," says Jeffs in the tape. "Do you feel ... your servant ... fill them with the Holy Ghost."
Although it was hard to clearly hear pieces of the tape, jurors were able to make-out a girl's voice and Jeffs calling the alleged victim's name twice.
There were no obvious sexual references and the girl was not heard resisting.
Just as the tape ends, Jeffs says, "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen" and the victim responds, "Amen."
Jurors remained aloof throughout the trial, but as they listened to the tape, at least four were seen covering their mouths with their hands, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
On Tuesday, the jury also heard audiotape depicting Jeffs' instruction to his 14-year-old victim and other under-age “wives” on how to please him sexually so as to win God’s favor, prosecutors say.
"You have to know how to be sexually excited and to help each other...and you have to be ready for the time I need your comfort," Jeff is heard saying.
He adds, "This is your mission. This is how you abide the law.”
Jeffs, who fired his lawyers last week, would loudly object over the recordings – claiming religious freedoms.
Walther overruled him each time. Prosecutor Eric Nichols refuted and said there is “no claim of privilege, regardless of the religion, with respect to communications directly relevant to sexual assault of a child.”
The poor quality of the tapes made it hard to understand what was being said. However, those listening could make out the sounds of crying as the girl was instructed to take her clothes off.
"Just don't think about the pain; you're going to heaven,” Jeff says in the recording.
Jurors were shown a photograph with 12 white robes – inscribed on the label was the name of one of the alleged victims. According to prosecutors, the girls wore these robes during their “heavenly sessions.”
The controversial leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was arrested on charges of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a minor after the 2008 raid of his sect’s compound.
Jeffs was back in court on Monday, after requesting Judge Walther be removed from his case because it was "God's demand."
He wrote, "I am to now recuse you from this case. Now sign order to recuse thyself; and allow this proceeding to stop...” the Associated Press reported.
The 16-page filing against Walther listed 29 orders from the Lord, including one where God sent "a crippling disease upon (Walther) which shall take her life soon."
Walther contracted polio as a young child and now walks with a limp, wrote the Associated Press.
The San Angelo, Texas, courtroom deliberated for an hour before rejecting Jeffs' motion filed against Walther.
Jeffs has been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list since 2006, after he was arrested during a routine traffic stop in Las Vegas.
Prosecutors called their last few witnesses in Jeff’s trial to the stand on Tuesday.
Jeffs faces 95 years in prison if convicted of the two counts of sexual assault. He will also be tried separately in October for bigamy charges.