Polygamist leader Jeff's fasting lands him in prison infirmary

Associated Press/February 22, 2008

Salt Lake City - Frail and losing weight, polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is in a prison infirmary because of a self-imposed fast.

Roger Hoole, a lawyer who is suing Jeffs to learn the location of an 18-year-old client's mother, said he learned of Jeffs' condition while making plans for a Thursday deposition with Jeffs.

"He appeared skinny, hard to hear; he speaks so softly at this point," Hoole said of Jeffs, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for most of the lawyer's questions.

Hoole represents Johnny Jessop, 18, who sued to force Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to reveal the location of Jessop's 62-year-old mother, Elsie. Jessop, who was kicked out of the sect, has not spoken to his mother in more than 18 months.

"There are hundreds of these boys, just thrown away, surplus males," Hoole said.

Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Corrections, said Jeffs, 52, was taken to a prison infirmary Tuesday evening.

"He's receiving the medical care that he needs," Welling said Thursday, declining to release any other details.

Hoole said he received notice from a prison doctor that Jeffs began fasting a week ago. The doctor's assessment was in response to an order from a judge trying to learn more about Jeffs' condition. His criminal defense lawyer, Wally Bugden, tried to cancel Thursday's deposition because of Jeff's condition.

In an assessment, Dr. Sidney Roberts made no mention of Jeffs being unfit for questioning. Roberts reported on Wednesday that Jeffs was "drinking some but is not eating as he is fasting for 'spiritual strength,"' according to a copy of an e-mail made part of a court document.

Bugden didn't return a message Thursday from The Associated Press.

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