Jury selected for Texas bigamy trial

March 21, 2012 at 7:40 PM

BIG SPRING, Texas, March 21 (UPI) -- Lawyers selected a jury Wednesday in the Texas bigamy trial of former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader Wendell Loy Nielsen.

Judge Robert Moore of the 118th Judicial District in Big Spring swore in the jury after 7 hours of questioning by the defense and prosecution, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported. The jury consists of five women and six men, as well as one man and one woman alternate.

Nielsen allegedly married 34 women in addition to his legal wife, Linda Black, court documents filed in 2010 indicated. He has been charged with three counts of third-degree felony bigamy -- each count punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000, the newspaper said.

This is the first bigamy case to go to trial as a result of an April 2008 raid on the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado. Police searched the ranch after learning of possible sexual abuse.

Then-FLDS leader Warren Jeffs -- who was arrested as part of the raid -- is serving life plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old girl. He is scheduled for a bigamy trial, the newspaper said.

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