Judge won’t block Warren Jeffs’ statements from his brother’s trial

A booking mug shot of Lyle Jeffs. (Image via Tooele County Sheriff's Office)

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge will not block statements from polygamist leader Warren Jeffs from being used in his brother’s upcoming trial.

However, the judge refused to grant a government request to allow out-of-court statements from the Fundamentalist LDS Church leader in the upcoming trial of Lyle Jeffs.

“Having reviewed the parties’ arguments, it appears likely that certain statements from Warren Jeffs are relevant and will be admissible at trial. However, the Court is not in a position to issue the broad ruling the government seeks. Rather, the Court will address the admissibility of the statements on a case-by-case basis,” U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart wrote in an order issued Tuesday.

Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.” He often issues edicts and revelations from prison, dictating the day-to-day lives of followers. Some of his recorded remarks are mailed nationwide to public officials.

In a separate ruling, Judge Stewart also refused a government request to block Lyle Jeffs’ defense lawyers from attacking the FBI’s investigation into food stamp fraud. Lyle Jeffs, once a high-ranking leader in the FLDS Church, was among 11 people charged with food stamp fraud and money laundering. They were accused of ordering rank-and-file FLDS members to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to leaders to do with as they wished. Federal prosecutors alleged the scheme bilked taxpayers out of more than $12 million.

The other defendants in the case took plea deals or had charges dismissed.

Lyle Jeffs spent nearly a year on the run after the FBI said he slipped out of a GPS monitoring device. He was arrested last month in South Dakota. Federal prosecutors tacked on a charge of failure to appear.

His trial starts in September.