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Jeffs evidence suppression hearing vacated

KINGMAN, Ariz. — The constitutionality of law enforcement raids conducted at a polygamist community ranch in Texas will not be litigated in Arizona after all.

Arizona attorneys have agreed to vacate a Feb. 17 hearing that was scheduled in response to a defense motion to suppress evidence that was seized in a 2008 raid at the Yearning For Zion ranch outside Eldorado, Texas.

The ranch, held by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is where authorities rounded up more than 400 women and children based on a telephone call alleging abuse. The call was later found to be a hoax.

The leader of the FLDS sect, Warren Jeffs, 53, currently awaits trial in Kingman on charges filed in 2007. They involve allegations that he arranged unions that allowed male adults to have illegal sexual relations with underage relatives.

Jeffs’ attorney, Mike Piccarreta, argued that no evidence seized in the Texas raid should be used in the Arizona case because it was gathered through an illegal search. Piccarreta had prepared subpoenas directing Texas authorities, including Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran and Texas Ranger Brooks Long, to appear at the now-vacated hearing.

“The evidence obtained thereby is suppressed and the State agrees that it will not use any evidence obtained as the result of the search of the YFZ Ranch,” stated the stipulation adopted by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn. The judge noted in his order that Jeffs has been awaiting trial in Kingman for nearly two years.

“The Court does not know whether eliminating the possibility that any evidence seized in the Texas search could be used in these cases makes these cases any more ready to go to trial than before,” the order stated. “The Court has certainly had the impression that that possibility was a major obstacle to getting these cases resolved.”

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