Raymond Jessop Trial: Punishment
This report, like the last, is based on information from people who were present in the courtroom as well as lawyers involved and others familiar with the legal process:
Today the Schleicher County jury heard evidence related to Raymond’s character and aspects of the way he lived his life. The State began with the testimony of from an FBI agent who testified about the time period Warren Jeffs was on the 10 Most Wanted List. Then a Ranger testified about chain of custody information.
Then came the testimony of Carolyn Jessop. The defense was obviously anticipating Carolyn’s testimony having a strong effect on the jury because nearly every question was met with an objection by Attorney Stevens, whether it was objectionable or not. Carolyn is Raymond’s stepmother and had personal knowledge of Raymond’s life as a young man — although the age difference between Raymond and Carolyn is only about 5 years. Carolyn identified a picture of all of Raymond’s nine wives and named each of the wives and their relationships with each other: Here’s the breakout:
1. Three wives are full sisters: Maryanne, Lenora, and Teresa Jeffs. Their parents are Warren Jeffs and Annette Barlow Jeffs. Teresa and Lenora were both married to Raymond underage.
2. Mary Musser Johnson and Marie Musser Johnson are full sisters. Mary is Raymond’s legal wife, and they are still legally married.
3. Three of the wives were previously married to Raymond’s brother, Ernie: Rhoda, Janet and Elizabeth. Rhoda and Elizabeth are sisters and are also sisters of Warren Jeffs.
Carolyn testified that Mary was happy to be married to Raymond until he was given a second wife and moved out of the master bedroom. Then she was miserable.
Carolyn’s testimony never gained much momentum because of all the objections. It’s hard to say what effect this testimony had on the jury — Stevens successfully disrupted the testimony, but in the process irked the jury. The only cross- examination question elicited the information that Carolyn was from 6 generations of polygamists on her mother’s side. The defense likely determined that Carolyn’s testimony was not terribly damaging to Raymond, and there was no need for many follow up questions.
Dr Larry Beall was the next witness for the State. He is a psychologist who specializes in trauma caused by “cult abuse.” Brandon Hudson asked for an instruction that Dr Beall not use the word “cult” but the request was denied. Dr Beall’s testimony was informative and damaging to Raymond. He talked about the effect of sexual assault on adolescent females in polygamous cults. He testified about the coercive nature of such communities and the lack of brain development in young girls and the inability to form mature and rational judgments in the adolescent years. This testimony was apparently elicited for the purpose of dispelling the fiction that Janet “consented” to underage marriage or sexual relations at age 15
Becky Musser testified next, and she was an outstanding witness. She was very poised and measured and knowledgeable. She authenticated marriage records, family group records and priesthood records showing the marriages of Raymond to his nine wives, Raymond’s whereabouts in the relevant time period, among other things. Becky explained aspects of FLDS life to the jury, and she was very clear in her presentation that girls have no choice and no control and no opportunity to think for themselves in the FLDS community. The defense did not cross-examine her, probably because anything they could have asked would have opened the door for further damaging testimony against Raymond. Becky also identified Raymond’s nine wives by name, as shown in a picture of all nine of them lined up side by side.
The final witness for the State was Ranger Nick Hanna, who is obviously accustomed to testifying and presents himself very well. Nick authenticated and read from various priesthood dictations and records that were not admissible in the guilt/innocence phase of the trial. The most damaging testimony was portions of dictations that: 1. described Janet “struggling” in labor for three days and all of the adults around her, including Raymond, refusing to take her to the hospital because it would get Raymond in trouble, and 2. recounted instances where Raymond served as Warren’s decoy in a caravan when Warren was on the 10 Most Wanted List. Many objections from the defense, all overruled.
The defense called four or five witnesses who were all people from around Eldorado and San Angelo — they were all people for whom Raymond had done construction work, and none of them had known him before June of 2009. None of them had any idea what his life was like at the Ranch or how many wives he had or anything else. They did all testify that he was nice and he was an honest worker. Truth be told, this was about as well as the defense could do and this testimony might have an effect on the jury. Seeing other “normal” people in the community saying nice things about Raymond will make it easier for the jury to soften a little.
The jury was excused at about 8:00 PM and the attorneys met in chambers for their “charging conference.” They were finished by about 9:30.
Tomorrow, closing summations will begin at 9:30 AM. Each side gets 30 minutes. Each side will have two attorneys use 15 minutes each. Then the jury is given its charge and deliberations begin. The range of sentences for sexual assault of a child is 2-20 years. If the jury sentences Raymond to 10 years or less, they must also consider whether Raymond is a good candidate for probation. If Raymond is sentenced to 20 years, he will have to serve at least 10 years day for day with no credit for “good time.” After 10 years he would become parole eligible, but it is not mandatory — he would have to continue meeting with the parole board until he is granted parole or until his sentence is complete.