Texas authorities ordered to speak with Jeffs' attorneys

Warren Jeffs

Warren Jeffs

KINGMAN - Warren Jeffs' attorneys will have the right to interview three Texas law enforcement officers concerning evidence seized from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas.

Judge Steven Conn said in court Tuesday morning that he would release a written ruling on the matter later in the day.

The ruling is expected to order Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, SCSO Deputy John Connor and Texas Ranger Brooks Long to submit to an interview by the Arizona defense attorneys in a certain number of days or sit for a formal deposition.

During Tuesday's hearing, Jeffs' attorney Michael Piccarreta said he warned the Mohave County Attorney's Office and the special prosecutor from the State of Arizona not to go or send officers to Texas. Both offices ignored his advice, he said.

He argued that the defense had a right to interview the three officers because they had had contact with Arizona law enforcement officers and investigators.

"These people (the Texas law enforcement officers) have injected themselves into this case," he said. "I find it hard to believe that they have no information or relevance to this case."

"The only downside (to ordering a deposition of the officers) is that the truth might filter through," Piccarreta said.

A vow from the CAO not to use the evidence collected from Texas during the trial was not enough, he said.

He asked if the CAO would be willing to concede to the motion to suppress the evidence on the two cases against Jeffs in Mohave County and segregate the Texas evidence from the rest of the evidence in the case.

Piccarreta said he was willing to travel to Texas and interview the officers at times most convenient to them. He also said Jeffs was willing to waive his right to be present during the depositions.

County Attorney Matthew Smith told the court that the Texas evidence was already separated from the rest of the evidence and the office had no plans to use the evidence in court.

"We are comfortable with the cases and don't need the evidence from Texas," Smith said.

Smith was willing to avow, in court, that the CAO would not use any evidence from Texas in either of the cases against Jeffs, if the court and the defense was willing to drop the motion to depose the Texas officers.

Smith raised concerns that having Arizona attorneys depose or interview the Texas officers could hurt the case that Texas authorities are gathering against Jeffs.

Jeffs was indicted in August by a Texas grand jury on charges of sexual assault and bigamy in connection with the raid.

Conn is to rule in writing on how many days the officers have to set up the interviews before they are ordered to sit for a deposition. The ruling was expected to be released later in the day on Tuesday.

Contacted by the Deseret News of Utah on Tuesday, Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran was unsure if he would submit to an interview.

"Until I receive something officially, I can't answer that," he said. "We're going to work with our attorney general's office and take advice from them."

Doran said he did not know why his office would need to be interviewed as part of Jeffs' criminal case in Arizona.

"I have no idea because the state of Texas, I don't believe, has anything to do with their case," he said.

Conn did not rule on the defense's motion to suppress evidence from the Texas raid and expressed reservations about not ruling on the motion.

He expressed concern that while the CAO has made several pledges not to use the evidence seized from Texas in either case that the CAO may use the evidence indirectly to support a theory or line of questioning during the trial.

At that point the defense would likely object, and the court would be forced to rule on the legality of the Texas search, which could delay the trial.

"I would rather rule sooner than later on the legality of the search," Conn said. But neither attorney seemed to be willing to push the matter during Tuesday's hearing.