Utah guv signs extradition request for Warren Jeffs

The Salt Lake Tribune/August 10, 2010

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert early this evening signed an extradition warrant that will send polygamous church leader Warren S. Jeffs to Texas.

It is unclear how soon that might happen. Jeffs' Utah attorneys have said they plan to fight his transfer.

Spokeswoman Angie Welling said Jeffs' counsel can file a writ of habeus to challenge the warrant, but was uncertain what timeline that might involve.

Welling said Herbert signed the warrant and an executive agreement about 5:30 p.m.

"It provides Utah the option to bring Mr. Jeffs back to the state at the conclusion of the Texas case," Welling said.

The extradition request signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, dated July 29, asked that the governor's office notify Texas Ranger Nick Hanna when "the fugitive is ready for release to the custody of our agents."

As of Tuesday afternoon, Jeffs was still being held at the Utah State Prison, according to a corrections spokesman.

Jeffs, 54, is charged with bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault based on his relations with two underage girls that allegedly took place at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Hanna led the investigation at the ranch in 2008 and has testified in the trials of a several FLDS men charged with sex crimes based on evidence seized from the ranch.

Earlier Tuesday, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said state attorneys are preparing a petition for a rehearing before the Utah Supreme Court, which last month reversed Jeffs' convictions on accomplice to rape charges and sent the case back for a new trial. The court said faulty jury instructions prevented Jeffs from getting a fair hearing.

Shurtleff said the request for a rehearing would focused on the discussions that surrounded instructions given to the jury that heard Jeffs' case in 2007.

The high court has given an extended Aug. 23 deadline for the rehearing request to be filed. That is the same day a 5th District judge is supposed to hear Jeffs' request for a "speedy" new trial.

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