Fall trial for Jeffs expected
With one case dismissed, Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith anticipates a fall trial for the leader of the polygamous sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Warren Steed Jeffs, 52, seemed to be in better spirits as he smiled to his supporters when he entered the courtroom on Wednesday wearing prison garb with a camouflaged bullet-proof vest.
At the case management hearing, Mohave County Judge Steven F. Conn alerted Smith and Jeffs' defense attorney Michael Piccarreta to the ruling dismissing with prejudice the 2005 case at the request of the state.
Jeffs still faces four counts of sexual conduct with a minor and four counts of incest in two separate cases for allegedly arranging marriages between teenage girls and adult male followers in the Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, area.
Conn set an omnibus hearing for 8 a.m. on May 19. A trial date could be set at the hearing, though Smith said it would be unlikely to happen at that time.
"This case will be tried probably in the fall as this case will not take as along as other serious cases," Smith said.
Piccarreta already filed a motion requesting the case be classified as complex, which will allow for the case to take longer without infringing on Jeffs' Constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Conn also set a stipulated schedule for the two pending cases. The state's initial discovery is due to the defense on April 4, while the defense's initial disclosure is due on May 5. The deadline for the state's rebuttal to the defense disclosure is May 15.
Conn extended the deadline for the defense to file a motion to remand the case to the grand jury to May 5. Also known as a Rule 12.9, a motion challenging the grand jury proceedings may be filed if it is alleged the defendant was denied a substantial procedural right, or that an insufficient number of qualified grand jurors concurred in the finding of the indictment.
Beyond the motion requesting the remand, Piccarreta said he expects to file several motions on behalf of his client ranging from a motion to dismiss based on the right to religious freedom in the First Amendment to a motion for a change of venue.
Conn warned both the prosecution and defense about conduct outside the courtroom, including any statements to the media. The more people talk about this case, the more likely there will be statements and articles used as cause for a change of venue, Conn added.
This statement came after Piccarreta went on record saying he believed Gary Engels, special investigator for Mohave County, made potentially religious insensitive remarks at a Republican group gathering.