Polygamist leader's trial continues in his absence


Warren Jeffs looks out the back of a Tom Green County Sheriff's Department car Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, after leaving the Tom Green County Courthouse, in San Angelo, Texas. A Texas jury convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs of child sexual assault on Thursday, in a case stemming from two young followers he took as brides in what his church calls "spiritual marriages." (San Angelo Standard-Times, Patrick Dove)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SAN ANGELO — The punishment phase in the child sex assault trial of Warren Jeffs has resumed without the polygamist leader in the courtroom.

Jeffs asked Friday to be excused in protest. He didn't want anyone to represent him, but state District Judge Barbara Walther appointed two standby attorneys.

Defense attorney Deric Walpole says he'll "finally get to do my job." He was one of seven lawyers Jeffs fired before deciding to represent himself.

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convicted Thursday on two counts of sexual assault of a child.

Jeffs was accused of having sex with underage followers he took as brides in so-called "spiritual marriages." His church believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.