Friday, May 02, 2008

Is the case against the FLDS unraveling?

Texas authorities have canceled the arrest warrant for the Arizona man who had been suspected of physically and sexually abusing a teenage girl -- allegations that launched last month's raid on an FLDS ranch in Eldorado.
Law enforcement did not find the teenage girl or Barlow at the YFZ Ranch, owned by the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The man named in the warrant, Dale E. Barlow, was never arrested and denied knowing the girl.
That's right, the entire legal justification for the raid has been yanked, and the poligamist they were supposedly seeking has never been arrested in connection with the raid. Now the next question you are asking yourself is "does that mean the whole case against the FLDS will get thrown out?" Not necessarily.

The U.S. Supreme Court created a "good faith" exception to the exclusionary rule in U.S. v. Leon. That is, if the prosecutor can prove that the Texas law enforcement officials had no reason to believe at the time of the raid that "Sarah" was some repeated prank caller in Colorado and not a 16 year old child bride in Texas, then they can still use the evidence gathered during the seizure at trial. I am sure the FLDS defense attorneys are going to file a motion and ask for a hearing (with witnesses etc.) to determine what Texas knew and when it knew it regarding "Sarah."

But even if the evidence stays in, the fact that the warrant was withdrawn and they never really went after Barlow will be used like a bludgen by defense attorneys to argue to the jury that the FLDS are being persecuted by Texas because of their religious beliefs.

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