Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has asked again to represent himself at his sexual assault trial, which is set to begin Thursday in Texas.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday morning that Jeffs attempted to fire his lawyers and requested permission from Judge Barbara Walther to represent himself.
"I have released all my counsel," Jeffs told Judge Walther, according to the newspaper. "I desire to represent myself." The report said the judge called a recess to consider the request.
Opening statements were expected at 10 a.m. local Texas time, but appear to have been delayed as a result of Jeffs' request.
Jeffs -- who is the leader and self-proclaimed "prophet" of the splinter group FLDS -- is accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls who he took as wives.
Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) has been known to openly practice polygamy in compounds, including the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas where the alleged sexual assaults took place, as well as two in Utah-Arizona border towns.
Evidence against Jeffs was obtained in a 2008 raid on the ranch, which was prompted by multiple phone calls by a woman claiming to be 16 and a victim of abuses there, CNN reported.
The raid on Yearning for Zion ranch resulted in 400 children being removed by the state -- a decision that was later overturned by the Texas Supreme Court, after which many children were returned to the ranch. Still, some men were charged with sexual abuse.
Jeffs' attorneys had moved to suppress the evidence obtained in the 2008 raid, as it was discovered that the phone calls police used to obtain search warrants were a hoax. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Wednesday that Judge Walther ruled against the defense, permitting the prosecution to use "the equivalent of 1.7 billion pages of evidence" obtained in the raid.
CNN reported that Walther issued the initial warrant for the raid, and ruled that the evidence can remain in the case because authorities legitimately perceived a need to protect a potential victim from danger.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Jeffs had "frequently" fired his lawyers in the months leading up to his trial, and that Judge Walther had ordered some lawyers back on the case so that the trial could proceed.
Members of FLDS believe they are preserving the beliefs of the original Latter-day Saints who traveled to the Great Basin in the mid-19th century. They are not affiliated with the official Mormon church -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS -- as Mormons renounced polygamy at the end of the 19th century, and the practice has been condemned by LDS ever since.
LDS rejects the term "fundamentalist Mormons": In 2008, the Deseret News reported that the church sent a letter to multiple media outlets about the importance of maintaining a distinction between Mormons and polygamist sects.