Nielsen named new FLDS president
Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned and embattled prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, may still be the spiritual leader of his flock, but he is no longer its president, according to a document filed last month with the Utah Department of Commerce.
That title now belongs to Wendell Loy Nielsen, 69, one of Jeffs' former counselors.
Nielsen is a resident of the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado and is among the men indicted by a Schleicher County grand jury following the April 2008 raid on the ranch. His trial on three counts of bigamy is pending in Judge Barbara Walther's 51st District Court and is currently scheduled for September 7, 2010.
Nielsen came to Eldorado from Hildale, Utah where he and three of his wives once owned and operated a manufacturing company called Western Precision. The company was sold to a man named John Wayman who changed its name to Newera and moved the business to Las Vegas, NV.
Child support order issued against Jessop
51st District Judge Barbara Walther last Thursday signed an order requiring YFZ Ranch leader Frederick Merril Jessop to pay approximately $170,000 in past due child support to Carolyn Jessop, a former polygamous wife with whom he had eight children.
An agreement on the amount of child support owed to Ms. Jessop was reportedly reached following a previous hearing last September. However, when neither Merril Jessop, nor his attorney Amy Hennington, would sign the deal, the issue was brought back before the judge for her signature.
Fort Worth attorney Natalie Malonis represented Carolyn Jessop in the hearing.
Prosecutor prepares criminal case against 4th YFZ defendant
State prosecutors are 3-0 in criminal cases against YFZ Ranch defendants but must begin anew as they prepare to bring a charge of Sexual Assault of a Child against 35-year-old Merril Leroy Jessop.
A change of venue was requested by the defense and the case has been moved to San Angelo where a pretrial hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 25th in Judge Barbara Walther's court.
Jury selection is slated to begin in the case on Monday, March 8, 2010. If convicted, Jessop could face up to 99 years in prison.
Jessop will be represented by Lubbock attorney Daniel H. Hurley of Lubbock and Neil Calfas of San Antonio.
Jessop is accused of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 17 who was assigned to him as a polygamous wife. The crime allegedly occurred at the YFZ Ranch on or about August 20, 2006.
Jury selection slated Monday in Merril Leroy Jessop case
Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, of the YFZ Ranch, stands accused of Sexual Assault of a Child, a first degree felony. And, since the alleged offense occurred after a 2005 law was implemented, Jessop could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Jessop's trial is set to get under way on Monday, March 8, 2010 in San Angelo in District Judge Barbara Walther's court. He also faces a bigamy charge that prosecutors plan to bring in a separate action.
The charges against Jessop stem from evidence gathered during the 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. So far, three men have stood trial on similar charges and all three have been convicted.
4th YFZ defendant now on trial in S.A.
A San Angelo jury panel consisting of seven men and seven women, including two alternates, was seated Wednesday morning to consider the fate of Merril Leroy Jessop, 35 of the YFZ Ranch.
The jury will determine Jessop's guilt or innocence on a charge of Sexual Assault of a Child, but they won't be asked to rule on the legality of the search warrant that led to the 2008 YFZ Ranch raid.
51st District Judge Barbara Walther ruled last week against a defense motion that sought to rehash issues surrounding the warrant and how it was obtained. In her ruling, the judge said that legal cases cited by the defense involved warrantless searches by police officers that do not apply in the Jessop case.
Jessop is the 4th YFZ Ranch defendant to come to trial following the 2008 raid. If found guilty, he could be facing up to 99 years in prison.
Michael Emack asks for state’s bigamy charge to be dismissed
A motion to dismiss a bigamy charge, filed by attorneys for Michael Emack, became available as a public record last week. The 80-page document outlines Emack’s objection to the state’s bigamy law and gives insight into the thinking of the legal team charged with defending several YFZ defendants.
The motion, filed by attorneys Randy Wilson and Brandon Hudson, argues “in the purely religious unions at issue in this cause, there is no holding out that the cohabiting parties are ‘married,’ nor is there any intention by any participant to be ‘married’ in anything other than a purely religious sense.”
The motion continues by saying that Celestial Marriage “is accomplished through a purely religious ceremony called a ‘sealing.’ This religious ceremony is no more intended to create a lawful and legal marriage under Texas law than the Roman Catholic Church intends to create such a legally defined union when a woman undergoes a wedding ceremony to Christ when she enters consecrated life to become a nun.”