Judge Denies Warren Jeffs' Request; Trial Moves Forward


Evidence Will 'Shock the World'

As the trial begins, a former follower of Jeffs', Elissa Wall, who five years ago was one of the first women to bring charges against the polygamist sect leader, is speaking out to say the trial will open the world's eyes to the insular, polygamist world of the FLDS and Jeffs.

"It will shock the world, the evidence that comes out," Elissa Wall said Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

Wall was one of the first of Jeffs' followers to pursue criminal charges against him when, in 2006, she said Jeffs forced her, as a 14-year-old, to marry her 19-year-old first cousin, Allen Steed.

"Warren Jeffs was a principal in my school and he also cultured a lot of the views of the religion I grew up in," Wall, now in her early 20s and married with two children, said on "GMA."

"This [the current trial] is an opportunity for people to see firsthand the actual crimes that Warren Jeffs himself has committed," Wall added.

After leaving the FLDS, Wall pursued criminal charges against Steed for sexual assault and against Jeffs for being an accomplice to rape. Jeffs was convicted on those charges in 2007 but the conviction was overturned by an appellate court on a technicality.

"I was able to get out but it was a struggle," Wall said of her experience with Jeffs, a story chronicled in her book, "Stolen Innocence." "Many people don't understand the people within these closed communities can't just walk out of them. It takes a choice."

The high-profile nature of the case was highlighted in the selection of the jury, of special focus in Texas where state law allows juries to set the penalty for those they convict.

Jeffs has gained worldwide notoriety for having a reported 70 wives and leading the sect's 10,000 members who live along the border of Utah and Arizona.

The hoax phone call and raid that precipitated the current charges and trial against Jeffs also thrust allegations of widespread child abuse at the polygamous sect into the national spotlight as television cameras captured images of women in 19th-century dresses and hairdos filing out of the compound.

A total of 207 people appeared for the second day of jury selection held earlier this week, but State District Judge Barbara Walther excused 120 of those potential jurors after most said they could not presume Jeffs' innocence.

Jeffs' attorneys have said they would request a change of venue out of San Angelo due to the attention on the case, but have yet to file a motion to do so.

Wall told "GMA" she believes the trial, no matter where it is held, will show the jury the controlling behavior she says Jeffs inflicts on his followers.

"He did display a lot of narcissistic behavior," she said. "He was much like a prince in our community, only he was the mouthpiece of God because God was in our prophets."

"He commanded a lot of respect and we all feared him very much," Wall said.

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