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

Cowichan woman deals with break-in after flooding forces her from home

Thief, who is known to her, now taunting her by text

Finishing touches being applied to new downtown Market

Official grand opening will be on March 28 as excitement builds

Wonderettes bring the fun while belting out the hits

Four-part harmonies in Chemainus Theatre production sure to be music to your ears

Midget Cougars go down swinging against powerful Salt Spring

Star player O’Dell finishes the season without committing a single foul

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read