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Judge lets Jeffs' attorneys talk to Texas officers

Kingman_The judge overseeing the Arizona trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs ruled Tuesday that his defense attorneys can interview Texas law officers about their raid on a sect-owned ranch.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn said he wasn't convinced when prosecutors in the Jeffs' case said they weren't planning to use evidence seized when the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado was raided in April.

The judge noted that prosecutors disclosed a 23-page inventory of items from the Texas raid that the state of Arizona has reviewed.

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith told the judge that the Texas evidence has been separated from the evidence prosecutors will use in the Arizona case, the Kingman Daily Miner reported.

The prosecutor raised concerns that interviewing the Texas authorities could hurt their cases. "We are comfortable with the cases and don't need the evidence from Texas," Smith said.

The judge granted a defense motion that allows Jeffs' attorneys to interview three Texas officials: Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, Deputy Sheriff John Connor and Texas Ranger Brooks Long.

Conn said the three officials possess abundant material about Jeffs, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that he leads and the participants involved in the Texas raid.

"If the Texas law enforcement officials have nothing to hide, they should have no objection to being interviewed or deposed," Conn wrote in his ruling.

Mike Piccarreta, an attorney for Jeffs, said he has 60 days to interview the three officials.

"We have wanted for months to interview these people because we think we're going to expose one of the greatest constitutional violations in recent history," he said. "We became even more concerned with what they had to hide when they wouldn't talk to us."

Smith did not immediately return a message left Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Jeffs is awaiting trial in Arizona on four counts of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor. Those charges filed in 2005 stem from the marriages of two teenage girls and their adult male relatives.

Texas authorities raided the polygamous sect's ranch in April after a report that a teenage girl had been physically and sexually abused. That call is now considered a hoax, but children were separated from their families for about two months while authorities investigated.

The FLDS church believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven. The Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

An estimated 37,000 self-described fundamentalist Mormons continue the practice across the intermountain Western states individually or as part of organized religious groups.

Jeffs' sect is based in the neighboring communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.

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