A Texas jury has begun deliberating the punishment for polygamist Warren Jeffs, a day after he was convicted on two counts of sexual abuse of a child.
The deliberations will begin on Friday after the jury listens to additional testimony during the penalty phase of the trial. Jeffs could face penalties up to life in prison, and the prosecution intends to pursue those maximum penalties.
Prosecutor Eric Nichols announced his office's pursuit of life in prison and that the prosecution will show 22 years of misdeeds by Jeffs, including having 78 wives. Nichols alleges 24 of those wives were under the age of 17.
It also intends to show that he witnessed or performed 67 polygamist marriages, broke up close to 300 families, and expelled young men from his religious sect in order to have more women for himself, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
"I think it will confirm in (jurors') minds why they convicted the man and why they want to put him behind bars for a long time," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a group of reporters on Thursday.
The jury deliberations signal the end is near for an at times bizarre trial. Jeffs, 55, is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He decided to represent himself during the proceedings and despite proclaiming religious freedom, Jeffs didn't offer up much of a defense.
He did not cross examine a single witness, didn't offer up much of a testimony, and during his 30-minute closing argument the only words he said were, "I am peace."
Jeffs was convinced of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sexual abuse of a child on Thursday. Jeffs' victims were a 12-year old girl and a 15-year old girl, both of which Jeffs took as "spiritual wives." One of the most damning pieces of evidence was an audio recording of what the prosecution alleged was Jeffs sexually assaulting one of the young girls.
Jeffs' FLDS organization has about 10,000 followers and is a separated sect of Mormonism that believes strongly in polygamy. Even with its leader going down, Jeffs' half-sister doesn't think this will stop FLDS members from participating in polygamy.
"They just make a martyr out of him," Elaine Jeffs told The Salt Lake Tribune. "The only way things are going to happen in the FLDS is it must come from within. People must change their minds; change their ideas."
Jeffs was initially tried and convicted of being an accomplice to rape of a child and was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years in prison. But in 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned the convictions, claiming that the jury instructions were wrong.
Utah has prepared to retry Jeffs, according to CNN, but is waiting to see the results of Texas' case against him.