View Full Version : Merrill Leroy Jessop - trial on sex assault
03-08-2010, 02:09 PM
Polygamist group man to face trial on sex assault
Posted: Mar 08, 2010 10:55 AM CST
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A member of a polygamist group was expected to go on trial Monday in West Texas for sexual assault of an alleged underage bride.
Merrill Leroy Jessop is the fourth member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be tried for sexual assault of a child since Texas authorities raided the group's ranch in April 2008.
Prosecutors allege that when authorities raided the Yearning For Zion Ranch, Jessop attempted to delete photos and other documents connecting him to the alleged underage bride in the case.
LIVE UPDATE: Jury selection begins for Jessop trial
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:46 a.m. , updated March 8, 2010 at 11:02 a.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Merril Leroy Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints who faces charges of sexual assault of a child today, stood in line outside the Tom Green County courthouse with people who will decide his fate as the jury selection process began today.
This is a developing news story. More developments will be reported as information becomes available.
03-10-2010, 02:26 PM
Jury seated in San Angelo trial of FLDS member Jessop
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:46 a.m. , updated March 10, 2010 at 9:48 a.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A jury has been seated in the trial of Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, a member of the polygamist sect from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County charged with sexual assault of a child in connection with allegations that he married an underage girl.
Jessop is the third man from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be tried on child sexual assault charges that grew out of evidence seized during a raid on the YFZ Ranch in April 2008. Another pleaded no-contest, and several others have cases pending. All four cases resolved to date have resulted in prison sentences for the defendants.
Jessop’s defense attorneys this morning moved to be granted more than the standard 10 peremptory strikes against prospective jurors, citing widespread prejudice against their client, but 51st District Judge Barbara Walther denied the motion.
Opening arguments are expected to begin this morning.
03-10-2010, 02:30 PM
Judge denies FLDS motion for mistrial
By Matthew Waller
The San Angelo Standard-times
Updated: 03/10/2010 10:23:52 AM MST
At 12:30 p.m., the judge heard and denied a motion for a mistrial filed by FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop, who said he is the sole representative of Merril Leroy Jessop's family and church. He was denied entry to the crowded courtroom Monday.
Willie Jessop said he is Merril Leroy Jessop's cousin and the only family member able to attend the trial.
Willie Jessop, in a signed affidavit, said Merril Leroy Jessop asked to accompany him to the court hearing Monday morning, but he could not get in and sat in the hallway until after a lunch break recess at 1:30 p.m. After several jurors had been excused, the court allowed a couple of law clerks and members of the media to enter, but Jessop said he was turned away again.
He said he nearly got in when a bailiff sent him to an empty seat in the back.
"I then proceeded to the seat, when the judge stated from the bench, 'There is no room in the courtroom.'
"This was the second time today I have been denied access to the courtroom," Willie Jessop said.
Jessop has been to previous criminal trials of FLDS members, including those of Raymond Merril Jessop and Allan Eugene Keate.
"Willie Jessop was denied permission to be seated and observe the jury selection proceedings in Defendant's cause," the motion states.
The motion "moves the Court to declare a mistrial as to any and all proceedings conducted to the exclusion of Defendant's sole representative and supporter ... Willie Jessop."
Nichols, arguing against the motion, put Willie Jessop on the witness stand and made the case that Willie Jessop hadn't made an attempt to enter after the general questioning of potential jurors.
"At what point would it have been appropriate to enter again?" Willie Jessop shot at Nichols.
Walther intervened, telling Willie Jessop -- who she said may not be fully aware of the court's procedures -- that the witness is not allowed to ask questions.
03-11-2010, 05:44 PM
FLDS TRIAL: 99 percent chance Jessop fathered child, experts say
Girl said to be 15 at time of alleged sex assault
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:46 a.m. , updated March 10, 2010 at 9:36 p.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Two DNA forensic analysts Wednesday told jurors there is a 99 percent chance Merril Leroy Jessop is the father of a child whose mother he allegedly married when she was underage.
Nichols, who spoke first, said the indictment provided a basic “road map” of what the state’s evidence would show in the case.
He also said substantial genetic evidence would prove the assault beyond a reasonable doubt.
“You will hear that she was not legally married to the defendant. You’re going to hear about what is described as a so-called ‘spiritual’ or ‘celestial’ marriage. You will hear evidence that not only was she placed in a spiritual or celestial marriage, but that she bore him a child,” Nichols said.
Nichols said the girl in question was 15 at the time of the alleged assault.
03-13-2010, 03:14 AM
FLDS TRIAL: Rangers detail raid on YFZ Ranch
Sect members uncooperative, man testifies
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 12, 2010 at 11:36 a.m. , updated March 12, 2010 at 9:16 p.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Ranch dwellers told the Texas Rangers lightning would strike them if they broke into their sacred limestone building.
That’s according to Texas Rangers who testified Friday to their part in the April 2008 raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Yearning for Zion Ranch outside of Eldorado.
“They were on their knees, crying,” Texas Ranger Jesse Valdez said in describing the people who watched him and others gain access to what was known as the temple annex. “The lightning never came.”
Valdez testified about having entered a vault in that same building.
In Courtroom A of the Tom Green County Courthouse, prosecutors used a picture enlarged by a projector to show the jury an open vault door with a hole less than 3 feet wide breaching a concrete wall several inches thick.
Inside the vault, law enforcement personnel found many cabinets containing boxes of personal and church records.
Texas Ranger Aaron Grigsby described the inside of the temple on the compound.
He said the first story had earth tones, the second blues and the top story was pure white, down to the furniture.
He said one of the corridors had a mural on either side. One side depicted animals living peaceably together.
“The other side was a bit of the natural anarchy of nature,” Grigsby said.
He described predators chasing prey on the anarchist side.
03-17-2010, 04:54 PM
Jury finds Jessop guilty
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 17, 2010 at 12:16 p.m. , updated March 17, 2010 at 1:36 p.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A Tom Green County jury has found Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, guilty of sexual assault of a child in connection with allegations he illegally married an underage girl.
Jessop is a member of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He kept a pleasant face while 51st District Judge Barbara Walther read the jury statement and pronounced the word “guilty.”
Jurors heard closing arguments this morning and left at 11:30 a.m. to deliberate.
Attorneys were summoned back to the courtroom at 12:30 p.m. upon hearing that the jury had reached their verdict.
Other trial-related links:
03-19-2010, 10:13 PM
Jessop sentenced to 75 years
* By Matthew Waller
* Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:56 p.m. , updated March 19, 2010 at 4:16 p.m.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — In the harshest sentence yet for members of a Texas polygamist group, a Tom Green County jury has sentenced Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, to 75 years in prison and imposed a $10,000 fine on one count of sexual assault of a child.
The jury deliberated on the sentence from 10:30 a.m. today until 2:35 p.m.
Jessop was convicted Wednesday on allegations that he illegally married and fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl while living at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County in 2006. He is a member of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was a resident of the sect’s YFZ Ranch outside of Eldorado.
Mau recalled how Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran went to the ranch with a Texas law book to show the residents what they were not supposed to do.
Jessop’s offense occurred after Doran’s visit.
“Merril Leroy Jessop’s violation was flagrant and open,” Mau said. “They ignored Sheriff Doran.”
Mau said rehabilitation for Jessop would be ineffective.
“This defendant doesn’t think what he has done is wrong. He thinks it’s a part of the path of salvation,” Mau said.
Mau said the absence of choice offered the girl, who he said was being brought up to be abused, makes her case “the most insidious form of child abuse.”
Hurley said the notion that the victim was brought up to be abused is “absolutely false.”
“They train the children to love each other, to be respectful of others,” Hurley said.
Hurley described the way that Jessop was called to marry the girl, being called in after work to appear before the former FLDS leader and his father and being married with about half an hour notice.
“Was it his free choice to do that that evening?”
Nichols finished off closing arguments for the prosecution.
He noted that Jessop lied to a doctor by telling him that he was his underage wife’s “uncle,” that when a Child Protective Services worker asked the girl how old she was at the YFZ Ranch, Jessop told the girl, “You are 18,” and that pictures of the underage girl with her baby were deleted from Jessop’s home computer the day after law enforcement personnel began to search the ranch for a victim of abuse.
The next trial is for Lehi Barlow Jeffs for sexual assault of a child on April 26.
Eight more men from the YFZ Ranch are under indictments because of evidence from the raid, Nichols said.
03-19-2010, 11:42 PM
The polygamists called us naysayers, evildoers and liars. They said we were jealous and controlling apostates out for revenge. And all the while legislatures in Utah and Arizona did nothing to protect innocent women and children.
Then along came Texas....
BANKING ON HEAVEN . COM
04-21-2010, 06:46 AM
"The next trial is for Lehi Barlow Jeffs for sexual assault of a child on April 26.
Eight more men from the YFZ Ranch are under indictments because of evidence from the raid, Nichols said."""
time for another one.
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