Sect leader Warren Jeffs gets life in prison

Aug. 9, 2011 at 1:26 PM
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SAN ANGELO, Texas, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A Texas jury Tuesday sentenced polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs to life in prison for sex with underage girls he called "wives."

The Salt Lake Tribune said the jurors in San Angelo conferred for 40 minutes before reaching the life sentence on one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 20 years in prison for one count of sexual assault of a child.

Prosecutor Eric Nichols told the jury the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had "perverted a religion to his own ends" and treated women and children as "property for sexual gratification and child bearing," the Tribune said.

Jurors convicted Jeffs, 55, last week in connection with two plural marriages to girls 12 and 15. Prosecutors rested their case in the sentencing phase Monday. The defense then declined to call witnesses.

During the sentencing phase, prosecutors told jurors Jeffs took a total of 78 plural wives. Prosecutors said those wives included 12 girls he married at age 16 and another 12 he married at age 15 or younger.

Jurors also heard audio recordings of Jeffs giving sexual instruction to underage wives and having sex with girls inside a temple at the sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, the newspaper reported.

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