After deliberating only 30 minutes, jurors returned a verdict sentencing the polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to life in prison. Last week, Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old who were his “spiritual wives.”
Jeffs received the maximum sentence allowed for each count. For the first count of aggravated sexual assault, the jury sentenced Jeffs to life in prison, and for the second count of sexual assault he received 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The judge decided that the sentences are to be served consecutively.
The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stood in silence as the decision was read.
During the trial, prosecutors presented DNA evidence that Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old.
The state also played an audiotape of Jeffs, giving explicit instructions to a group of young girls. Jeffs told girls that they “need to be excited” and would be rejected by God for refusing to perform sexual intercourse with him.
Earlier today, the state and defense had 30 minutes to present closing arguments.
Monday marked the third full day of the penalty phase. Both sides rested their cases-- the prosecution pushed for the maximum sentence by introducing additional damning evidence of Jeffs having sexual intercourse with underage girls, while the defense chose not to call any witnesses.
The state played a tape identified as Jeffs, telling a group of girls how to please him sexually.
The state also introduced summary photos of Jeffs kissing his young wives.
Prosecutors read a document written by Jeffs that revealed the “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints intended on taking a 13-year-old girl as his “spiritual wife.”
‘“If the world knew this is what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.’ Did I read that correctly?” assistant prosecutor Fields Alexander asked FBI Agent John Broadway, who testified about the document.
The state told jurors that Jeffs was involved in 550 bigamous marriages, including 67 young girls. It was revealed that Jeffs had 78 unlawful wives, of whom 24 were underage at the time of the marriage.
Since 2002, Jeffs led the LDS church and was considered by more than 10,000 followers, as God’s spokesman on Earth.