Witness in FLDS leader's case won't meet with his attorneys

Deseret News, Utah/October 17, 2008

A witness in the upcoming criminal case of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is apparently refusing to meet with his defense attorneys.

They filed a motion earlier this week asking a judge in Kingman, Ariz., to force the witness to be deposed.

"Ms. (name redacted) has refused the defendant's request to be interviewed," Jeffs' attorneys Richard Wright and Michael Piccarreta wrote in court papers. "However, Ms. (name redacted) has no right to refuse an interview even though she is the complaining witness against the defendant in a separate criminal case."

The woman has been interviewed as a witness in Utah's prosecution of Jeffs, the attorneys note.

"Indeed, Ms. (name redacted) lived in the same household with Ms. (name redacted) during relevant time periods and was a close friend. She possesses potentially helpful information based on her law enforcement report. Accordingly, she has been listed as a potential defense witness," Wright and Piccarreta wrote.

Because the names of the women were redacted from the public files by the courts, it is unclear who exactly is being uncooperative. Jeffs is facing sexual conduct with a minor charges in two separate cases in Arizona, accusing him of performing underage marriages.

One of the marriages in question involves Elissa Wall, who was Utah's star witness in its case against Jeffs. The polygamous sect leader was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between Wall, who was 14 at the time, and her 19-year-old cousin, Allen Steed.

Jeffs is serving a pair of 5-years-to-life sentences for those charges. Steed is currently facing a rape charge in St. George's 5th District Court.

A call to Wall's attorneys was not immediately returned on Friday.

In response, Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said he did not oppose defense counsel's request to interview the woman, "as long as they do not question her with respect to her case in which she is a victim."

"The state will set up an interview and does not believe a deposition will be necessary based on the avow of defense counsel as well as the motion currently filed," Smith wrote.

Contributing: Suzanne Adams, Kingman Daily Miner

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