Jury Finds Polygamist Sect Leader Guilty

Jeffs convicted on 2 felony counts of rape as accomplice
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2007 5:20 PM CDT
Prosecutor Brock Belnap hugs the alleged victim after closing arguments in Warren Jeffs' trial Friday, Sept. 21, 2007, in St. George, Utah. Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was convicted today on two counts of rape as an accomplice for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin. The jury reached a verdict just hours after one member was replaced for undisclosed reasons, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Jeffs faces 5 years to life in prison; no sentencing date has been set.

Jeffs and his followers listened impassively to the verdict. The five-man, three-woman jury deliberated for 16 hours over 3 days before finding Jeffs guilty of the felony charges, which could carry a life sentence, the AP reports. Jeffs contended that his religious beliefs were on trial, but he "can't say he didn't get a fair trial," said a prosecution investigator.