Warren Jeffs Threatens Court With Death Message From God

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs broke into an hour-long speech at his sexual assault trial Friday, defending his right to practice plural marriage and threatening death upon the court for continuing his prosecution.

Even after the judge in the case dismissed the jury, Jeffs continued asserting his right to practice his religion the way he saw fit. A self-proclaimed "living prophet" of God, Jeffs read what he claimed to be a message from God.

"I, the Lord God of heaven, call upon the court to cease this prosecution against my pure, holy way," said Jeff.

"I shall send a scourge upon the counties of prosecutorial zeal to be humbled by sickness and death," he added.

Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, began his sermon-like address before Texas court when an FBI agent was about to read the names and birthdates of those living on the sect's El Dorado, Texas compound. The agent was testifying on evidence obtained from the compound during a raid in April 2008.

"I object!" Jeffs blurted out. "There is sacred trust given to religious leadership not to be touched by government agencies."

"You are stomping on sacred ground. You are treading on a people of peace. This religion deserves protection. The government of the United States has no right to infringe on the right of a peaceful people. The mockery must cease. This religious persecution must cease."

Jeffs is facing charges of child sexual assault and aggravated child sexual assault for having sexual relations with two children and forcing them into "spiritual marriages." If convicted, the 55-year-old could be sentenced to life in prison.

His group, a fundamentalist offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church, believes that polygamy is the will of God.

Jeffs, acting as his own lawyer since firing his defense team on Thursday, argued in the presence of his jury that the church's practice of polygamy is protected under the First Amendment. He also said he was following God's law when it comes to marriage.

"We cannot surrender these principles based on the laws of man trying to convince us that our religion is not necessary in practice," the FLDS head said.

"If we do not live these laws we are damned here and hereafter," Jeffs continued. "We believe in marriage system of eternity called celestial marriage, wherein celestial means heavenly authorized, not to be intervened by government intervention."

His outburst comes after days of silence in his trial. In his 55-minute speech, Jeffs said that his church has practiced polygamy for five generations.

"We are not a fly-by-night religious society," he said. "We are a community of faith and principles and those principles are so sacred. They belong to God, not to man and the governments of man."

Elissa Wall, a former FLDS member and Jeffs' compound resident, said she wasn't surprised by Warren's sudden outburst.

"I couldn't expect anything less from such an irrational, honestly, partially crazy leader as I knew him," said Wall on CBS' "The Early Show."

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