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Polygamist Warren Jeffs trial resumes after "sickness and death" threat

Polygamist Warren Jeffs trial resumes after "sickness and death" threat
Warren Jeffs AP Photo, file

(CBS/KOSA/AP) SAN ANGELO - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is back in court, three days after threatening that God would strike down all involved should his trial continue.

The 55-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, one younger than 17 and one younger than 14. The charges against him include aggravated sexual assault of a child, which is punishable by up to 99 years to life in prison.

His followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon offshoot, believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven and see Jeffs as God's earthly spokesman.

Jeffs fired his attorneys and is representing himself. According to CBS affilaite KOSA, he gave a speech defending polygamy Friday, then read a statement he said was from God promising "sickness and death" unless the persecution of his religion ceases.

Jeffs claims his rights to freedom of religion have been trampled.

He wants the case delayed until a separate hearing on that issue is held, but the judge has refused.

Jeffs faces a separate trial for bigamy in October.

Complete coverage of Warren Jeffs on Crimesider