Judge dismisses Ariz. charges against Warren Jeffs

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A Mohave County judge on Wednesday dismissed all Arizona charges against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs after a prosecutor said continuing with the charges would be "impractical."

Judge Steven Conn granted Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith's motion to dismiss the four charges of sexual misconduct with a minor with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled on the same set of facts.

Smith said the two alleged victims in the cases no longer want to proceed with prosecution in Arizona.

In his motion filed earlier Wednesday, he said Jeffs has already served more time in Arizona than he would receive upon conviction, more serious charges are pending against Jeffs in Texas, and Jeffs has had significant medical problems while jailed in Kingman.

"It would be impractical and unnecessary to spend taxpayer money on this defendant under all the above mentioned circumstances," Smith wrote.

Jeffs' attorney, Mike Picarretta, said he appreciates Smith "fulfilling his ethical duties and dismissing all remaining prosecutions" against Jeffs.

The court ordered the sheriff's office to transport Jeffs back to Utah, where his 2007 convictions on two counts of rape as an accomplice are on appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison for the charges, which involved Jeffs' role in the 2001 spiritual marriage of an underage follower to her then-19-year-old cousin.

Smith noted that Texas has started extradition proceedings, but Conn said Arizona had only temporary custody of Jeffs until the charges against him were resolved. Any such proceeding must be initiated with Utah, not Arizona, Conn said.

Jeffs, the former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was moved to Kingman from the Utah State Prison in February 2008. The first of his Arizona trials had been scheduled to begin Nov. 2, with the second trial to be considered at its conclusion.

Jeffs' troubles extended into Texas when he was indicted on charges of sexual assault of a child and bigamy, months after authorities raided the FLDS' Yearning for Zion ranch at Eldorado in April 2008.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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