Tapes heard in Jeffs trial penalty phase

Aug. 8, 2011 at 6:40 PM
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SAN ANGELO, Texas, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Prosecutors presented more audio evidence to jurors Monday in the penalty phase of polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs' child sex assault trial in Texas.

Jeffs was convicted in a San Angelo court Thursday of sexual assault of a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child. Monday was the third full day of penalty phase arguments heard by a 10-woman, two-man Tom Green County jury, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported.

Jeffs represented himself at trial, but has asked to be absent from the courtroom during the penalty phase with his former lead attorney, Deric Walpole, acting in his stead.

Prosecutors presented four pieces of audio, the newspaper said.

Jury members heard audio of a man prosecutors alleged to be Jeffs giving explicit sexual instructions to several girls, including one 14-year-old, her two sisters and her half-sister.

Prosecutors presented an additional audio purported to be Jeffs in the company of 13- and 15-year-old girls telling them to follow his instructions or they would be rejected by God.

In one audio segment, a male prosecutors allege to be Jeffs can be heard telling listeners to "set aside inhibition and reservation."

Prosecutors read to the jury a document allegedly written by Jeffs about an encounter with a 13-year-old girl.

"'If the world knew this is what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.' Did I read that correctly?" assistant prosecutor Fields Alexander asked FBI Agent John Broadway, who testified about the document.

"Yes," Broadway said.

One juror wept, tissues clutched in her hand as she listened to the audio.

If given the maximum sentence, Jeffs could receive 119 years in prison, the newspaper said.

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