Filing claims YFZ engaged in illegal banking activity
State lists prior bad acts of YFZ defendant
Bank accounts belonging to the YFZ Land L.L.C. were closed because of illegal banking activity, according to a document filed Monday in Judge Barbara Walther's 51st District Court.
The filing came in the case of Raymond Merril Jessop, who stands accused of Sexual Assault of a Child and Bigamy. He is due to stand trial in Schleicher County beginning on Monday, October 26, 2009.
While currently not part of the actual criminal case against Jessop, prosecutors offered the filing as "extraneous offenses" and prior "bad acts" that may be considered during the penalty phase of the trial if Jessop is found guilty.
Judge rules YFZ evidence admissible at trial
District Judge Barbara Walther ended months of speculation Friday when she ruled that evidence seized during the April 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch may be used in a series of criminal trials pending against a dozen defendants.
First among those will be Raymond Merril Jessop, 38, who is slated to stand trial for sexual assault of a minor, beginning October 26 here in Eldorado. He is also charged with a single count of bigamy and will face trial on that charge at a later date.
The judge's long-awaited ruling came at the end of a pre-trial hearing in her Tom Green County courtroom. During the hearing, prosecution and defense attorneys had argued over precisely which evidence and testimony should be allowed before the jury in Jessop's upcoming trial.
During the same hearing, Raymond Merril Jessop formally answered the sexual assault charge with a not guilty plea.
YFZ changes name again, renews tax exemption request
Documents were filed last week in the Schleicher County Clerk's office which reveal the creation of a new trust, this one named Texas Stake of Zion, and the transfer of ownership of the YFZ Ranch into that trust.
A similar trust, named Texan Heritage Trust, was created on December 31, 2008, when the assets of YFZ Land, L.L.C., commonly known as the YFZ Ranch, were transferred into that trust.
YFZ trial approaches as lawyers argue over grand jury composition
Just days before the first of the YFZ Ranch defendants is slated to go to trial, defense lawyers filed a series of joint motions in recent days asking the court to quash their clients' indictments. The motions argue that the method by which Schleicher County selects its jurors discriminates against Hispanic citizens and limits the number of Hispanic grand jurors.
The motion notes that Schleicher County uses a "key man system" to choose grand jurors. The state's response refers to the system as a "jury commissioner system," and says that such systems are called for under Texas statutes and have been found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
First YFZ trial opens with lengthy jury selection process
A pool of 153 prospective jurors gathered Monday, October 26, 2009, at the Schleicher County Memorial Building as jury selection got underway in the long-awaited trial of Raymond Merril Jessop. The 38-year-old resident of the YFZ Ranch is accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl whom the State of Texas alleges was also one of his polygamous wives.
Initially, 300 Schleicher County residents were summoned to appear for jury duty, but a number of them were excused ahead of time because of their age, health, or status as a full-time student. Nineteen more were excused shortly after jury selection began. Randy Mankin, publisher and editor of The Eldorado Success, was the very first prospective juror to be excused.
Raymond Jessop trial enters second week
Lawyers for Raymond Merril Jessop, 38, battled Monday and Tuesday in hopes of keeping a panel of 12 jurors and two alternates from hearing any mention of polygamy or plural marriage during Jessop's trial here on one count of Sexual Assault of a Child. Their efforts met with mixed results as Judge Barbara Walther excluded a document that indicated Jessop had at least four wives who were either pregnant or nursing at the same time. Also, names of Jessop's other wives were to be redacted from several documents before they were allowed into evidence.