Utah Supreme Court denies Warren Jeffs' petition to halt extradition

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court denied a petition for emergency relief Tuesday from polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, which means he'll be sent to Texas where he faces a number of criminal charges there.

Though an extradition agreement was signed by both Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Texas Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year, Jeff's defense attorneys tried to prevent the extradition on the grounds that sending Jeffs to Texas before the pending criminal case in Utah is resolved is a denial of his right to a speedy trial. They had filed a petition for emergency relief with the Utah Court of Appeals, which indicated it would hear the case and stayed the extradition pending their decision.

Soon after, the case was transferred to the Utah Supreme Court, which dismissed the request and the Utah Court of Appeals' stay in a brief, two-line statement.

"The petition is denied, the stay previously imposed by the Court of Appeals is lifted and the appeal is dismissed," the order states.

Jeffs, the leader of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church, is currently incarcerated at the Utah State Prison. He has been held there for the past 50 months since he was arrested, prosecuted and convicted on two charges of rape as an accomplice for his role in marrying a 14-year-old FLDS follower to her 19-year-old cousin. The Utah Supreme Court overturned the 2007 convictions in June and sent the case back to the 5th District Court in St. George. Utah prosecutors have yet to decide whether they'll retry Jeffs, 54.

In Texas, Jeffs faces charges of bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault charges for incidents involving underage girls at the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. The charges stem from information gleaned from church and family records seized during a raid in April 2008.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

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