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Aug 1, 2011 8:13 AM by Kate Richards

Polygamist leader back in court

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is back in court, three days after threatening that God would strike down all involved should his trial continue.

Jeffs is accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls whom he took as brides. His followers believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven and see Jeffs as God's earthly spokesman.

The 55-year-old fired his attorneys and is representing himself. He gave a speech defending polygamy Friday, then read a statement he said was from God promising "sickness and death" unless the persecution of his religion ceases.

Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, claims his rights to freedom of religion have been trampled.

He wants the case delayed until a separate hearing on that issue is held, but the judge has refused.

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