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Jeffs trial recesses for the night; follower to continue testimony

Jeffs trial recesses for the night; follower to continue testimony
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 9:30pm

(AP) - Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs gave a delayed opening statement about religious persecution Wednesday and dramatically slowed down his trial, where he is defending himself on charges of sexually abusing underage girls.

His surprise 30-minute statement followed prosecutors resting their case against him. Prosecutors had first played an audiotape of what they said was him assaulting a 12-year-old he had taken as a "spiritual wife."

After his statement, Jeffs called one of his church's members to testify.

JD Roundy read from the Book of Mormon and then answered questions about the church's beliefs well past dark.

After each answer, Jeffs paused for a few minutes before asking another question.

Roundy was expected to return to the witness stand when trial resumes in San Angelo Thursday morning.

Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His sect believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

The church's 10,000 members see Jeffs as a prophet who speaks for God on Earth.

Jeffs is on trial on two counts of sexual assault of a child for sex to two girls, ages 12 and 15, with whom he had entered into "spiritual marriages."

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