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Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Goes Free in AZ, But Still Doing Time and Facing Charges in Two States

Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamist sect, is led into a courtroom in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006. Jeffs waived his right to extradition and will be returned to Utah for trial. AP

Warren Jeffs (AP Photo)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) All charges against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs have been dismissed by a Mohave County judge after a prosecutor said continuing with the charges in the state of Arizona would be "impractical."

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith's motion to dismiss the four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor was granted Wednesday.

According to Smith, the two alleged teenage victims who claimed Jeffs played a role in the arranged marriages with their older male relatives no longer want to proceed with prosecution in Arizona.

In his motion to dismiss, Smith wrote, "It would be impractical and unnecessary to spend taxpayer money on this defendant under all the above mentioned circumstances."

The former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has already spent more time in an Arizona jail than he would receive if convicted, and Jeffs has had significant medical problems while there.

However, this does not mean that Jeffs, who was at one time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list , will go free.

The 54-year-old was transported back to Utah and will continue to serve his 2007 sentence where he was found guilty on two counts of rape as an accomplice. Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison for his role in the 2001 spiritual marriage of an underage follower to her then-19-year-old-cousin.

Although that case is currently being appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, Texas has also begun its extradition process and has indicted Jeffs on charges of sexual assault and bigamy.

So while Jeffs may be free in Arizona, he is definitely not free and clear.


  • Caroline Black

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