Lawyers spar over evidence admissibility at child bride trial

Records seized at a religious compound in Texas in 2008 at issue for Bountiful man on trial

A lawyer attacked the credibility of religious documents that prosecutors are hoping to tender as evidence in the trial of a man charged with allegedly removing a child from Canada to marry an American man.

Joe Doyle, who was appointed to serve as the friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, questioned the legitimacy of documentation seized by U.S. law enforcement at a fundamentalist Mormon compound in Texas in 2008.

Those records are being presented as evidence in the trial of James Marion Oler, who is charged with allegedly removing a child from Canada and facilitating a marriage to an American member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in 2004.

Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson, along with colleague Micah Rankin, is seeking to have those documents admitted into the trial, which serve as evidence showing that Oler carried out specific orders as directed by Warren Jeffs, the FLDS president and prophet.

Crown says the documents, which consist of marriage and priesthood records that are considered a key doctrinal element to the mainstream and fundamentalist Mormon faiths, prove that a marriage occurred and that the weight and validity of those records is corroborated by other witnesses who already testified.

However, Doyle argued that the religious significance of some of the marriage records was not valid as some of the documents appeared to be in template form, had fax numbers on them and were not properly filled out.

“All that’s happened here is you’ve had Texas Rangers seize a bunch of things in a vault in 2008 and have brought them into this court, plunked them into a book, and you’re asked to assume that they’re accurate,” Doyle said. “We don’t even know who made them, we don’t know when they were made. We don’t know when they were amended. We don’t know what process went into making them. Were they made at the time or were they made after the fact by somebody taking notes?”

Two Mormon religious experts earlier testified about the significance of meticulous record-keeping to the faith, which is considered a scriptural commandment in the Book of Mormon.

Also under scrutiny are priesthood records, which consist of instructions, teachings and daily activities as dictated by Jeffs into a handheld voice recorder, a practice confirmed by witness testimony.

For example, one priesthood record — an audio recording — includes Jeffs describing the contents of a phone call with Oler, where he ordered him to bring a young teenager to the U.S. to be married.

Oler is being tried in Cranbrook Supreme Court in front of Justice Martha Devlin. He was previously acquitted of the same charge in 2017, however, Crown successfully appealed the decision at the B.C. Court of Appeal, which awarded a new trial.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read