Skip to main content

Jury picked at Warren Jeffs sexual assault trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Jury selected in Warren Jeffs case
  • The judge says the trial could last two to three weeks
  • Polygamous sect leader faces charges of sexual assault and bigamy
  • They stem from a 2008 raid on a ranch operated by his church

San Angelo, Texas (CNN) -- A jury of 10 women and two men was selected Tuesday night at the sexual assault trial of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.

It wasn't clear when the jury, which includes one male and one female alternate, will hear opening statements.

Wednesday afternoon, the defense is scheduled to argue a motion to suppress evidence.

The jury's selection followed a full day of questioning. At one point, nearly half of 207 potential jurors raised their hand when asked by defense attorney Deric Walpole "if you do not presume my client to be innocent."

Jeffs is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy stemming from a 2008 raid on a ranch operated by his church.

Authorities raided the Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas, and removed 400 children who they feared had been sexually abused.

Some of the men at the ranch were charged with sexual abuse and most of the children were later returned to their families.

The ranch is operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot sect of the mainstream Mormon Church.

Walpole said he needs more time to present a defense, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the defense has had sufficient time to prepare.

District Judge Barbara Walther told the pool of potential jurors on Monday that the trial could last two to three weeks.

Jeffs' motion to remove the judge assigned to hear the sexual assault charges against him was denied last week by a different Texas judge.

He is expected to be tried on the bigamy charge later.

The FLDS splintered from the Mormon Church more than a century ago when Mormons renounced the practice of polygamy. Jeffs' church is believed to have about 10,000 followers.

In Session's Jim Kyle, Lena Jakobsson and Beth Karas contributed to this report.