Polygamists' attorney tips hand on strategy

KINGMAN ­ The attorney for eight Colorado City men indicted for allegedly sexually offending underage ceremonial wives made it clear Thursday that freedom of religion will likely be a strategy in exonerating his clients of any legal wrongdoing.

Flagstaff defense attorney Bruce Griffen has until 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 to file such a motion. Mohave County attorney Matt Smith has until 5 p.m. Dec. 9 to file a return motion.

In court Thursday, Smith said the state is contemplating a course of action that would make religious beliefs not applicable in this case.

Regarding possible developments in the case, Smith said, "It's all uncharted territory."

Accused polygamists Randolph J. Barlow and David Romaine Bateman both appeared in Mohave County Superior Court Thursday, the former for an omnibus hearing and the latter for a case management conference.

Barlow is charged with two counts of sexual assault, a Class 2 felony, and sexual conduct with a minor.

Bateman is charged with sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, both Class 6 felonies.

Bateman is scheduled to be back in court for his omnibus hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 9.

Oral arguments on the intended motions and trial setting are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 21.

To both defendants, Judge James Chavez said: "The defendant's presence is mandatory at that hearing."

Mohave County Sheriff's deputies arrested Bateman in early July at his home in Colorado City.

Both he and Barlow are members of the polygamy-supporting Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.