Jeffs in medically induced coma after fasting in prison several weeks

HOUSTON -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was hospitalized Monday in a medically induced coma in critical condition after fasting in the weeks since receiving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage followers he took as spiritual brides, officials said.

The 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was expected to survive, said an official familiar with Jeffs' medical condition. It was not clear how long Jeffs, who has a history of refusing to eat while incarcerated, would remain in a coma or how long he would be hospitalized, the official said.

The official requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the information publicly.

Doctors were not specific about why Jeffs was put into a coma.

Jeffs' attorney Emily Detoto said her client "hasn't been feeling well" and was taken to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler on Sunday night. She declined to elaborate.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Jeffs was in critical condition, but she would not give details about his status. Lyons said Jeffs told corrections officers that he has fasted in the time since his sentencing this month, but it was not clear how long he had gone without food.

During Jeffs' trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with a 15-year-old, and they played an audio recording of what they said was Jeffs sexually assaulting a 12-year-old. Both girls were among 24 underage wives whom prosecutors said Jeffs collected.