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Warren Jeffs no longer representing himself

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Warren Jeffs guilty of sex assault
  • Jeffs leaves the courtroom during the sentencing phase of his trial
  • One of the attorneys whom Jeffs had fired earlier represented him Friday
  • Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting to teenage "spiritual wives"

San Angelo, Texas (CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs asked to leave the courtroom Friday and will not be representing himself during the penalty phase of his sexual assault trial.

But before being escorted out of the Texas courtroom, Jeffs delivered a message to jurors demanding that the proceedings cease.

Deric Walpole, one of the defense attorneys Jeffs had fired earlier in trial, represented him Friday as the penalty phase of the trial continued.

Jurors will decide his punishment after hearing additional witness testimony in the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors say

Fmr. FLDS member reacts to Jeffs verdict
Attorney: 'Everyone isn't Warren Jeffs'

this phase of the trial could last several days.

The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on his conviction of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old who were his "spiritual wives."

The jury convicted him of two counts of sexual assault on a child -- charges filed after a 2008 raid on a ranch his church operates near Eldorado, Texas.

Jeffs represented himself during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. He was silent during most of his 30-minute closing argument Thursday, mumbling at one point, "I am at peace."

Texas prosecutors rested their case Wednesday after playing a key piece of evidence for jurors: a 20-minute audio tape that began and ended with a man saying prayer. Prosecutors alleged that the recording was of Jeffs' sexual assault of a then-12-year-old girl in the presence of three other "wives."

The girl had grown up in Jeffs' Yearning for Zion ranch, authorities said.

Prosecutors showed the jury a photo of her with her arms around Jeffs, and a marriage certificate that listed the girl's age as 12 at the time.

Jurors also heard audio recordings that prosecutors said showed Jeffs instructing a 14-year-old and his other young "wives" on how to sexually please him in order to win God's favor.

Prosecutors said the 14-year-old was Jeffs' "spiritual wife" and conceived a child with Jeffs when she was 15.

Jeffs could be sentenced to five years to life in prison on the charge of aggravated sexual assault regarding the alleged 12-year-old. For the other count, he could face a sentence of two to 20 years.

Jeffs' breakaway sect is believed to have about 10,000 followers. Their practice of polygamy, which the mainstream Mormon Church renounced more than a century ago, is part of the sect's doctrine.

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