3 jurors reported "afraid" to convict

4 innocent in polygamist's slaying

The Associated Press/March 21, 1979

Salt Lake City - A woman and three men were found innocent yesterday of charges in the 1977 slaying of polygamist leader Dr. Rulon Allred.

The two-man, six-woman jury deliberated four hours before retuning innocent verdicts on all 14 counts.

After the verdict, prosecutor David Yocorn said: "The jury was concerned for their welfare. Three jurors told me they were afraid to return a verdict of guilty."

One of the defense attorneys, Robert VanSciver, said: "I didn't think the evidence was there." Another defense lawyer, John O'Connell, said he was gratified "people like this who have such a different religion and different beliefs" could get a fair trial in Utah.

VanSciver earlier said prosecution witness Donald Sullivan "in my judgment is the most morally despicable person who has been in the courtroom."

VanSciver and Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to testify in exchange for immunity from further prosecution, had the most to gain by implicating the four defendants.

Acquitted were Reno Chynoweth, 20, the youngest of a dozen wives of self-proclaimed prophet Ervil LeBaron; her brothers Mark and Victor; and Edward Thomas Marston.

They are members of LeBaron's Church of the Lamb of God, a rival polygamist group to the Apostolic United Brethren, which Allred headed.

Sullivan testified he was one of five members of a hit team that came to Salt Lake City to kill Allred. He said Allred was gunned down by Ms. Chynoweth and Ramona Marston, another LeBaron follower.

Marston, LeBaron and a son still are being sought in the case.

VanSciver called the government's story of how Allred, a 71-year-old naturopath, was slain "improbable and unlikely."

The prosecution claimed the murder was ordered by LeBaron at an April 20, 1977, church meeting in Dallas and carried out by Chynoweth and Marston.

Ms. Chynoweth, Ms. Marston and Mark Chynoweth were also acquitted on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy in an alleged attempt on the life of LeBaron's brother, Verlan, at Allred's funeral. Victor Chynoweth was acquitted on a charge of conspiracy in Allred's death and the alleged attempt.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.