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TribBlog: Guilty verdict in state polygamist case

Jurors have returned a guilty verdict in the West Texas polygamist sect trial, sources close to the case have told The Texas Tribune.

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Jurors have returned a guilty verdict for the first of several fundamentalist Mormons arrested for allegedly forcing underage girls into marriage.

The guilty verdict, returned against 38-year-old Raymond Merril Jessop, comes more than a year after child welfare workers raided the West Texas polygamist ranch and took hundreds of children into custody. 

The children have since been returned to their parents.

The verdict represents a big win for the state, which suffered a black eye after a state court ruled child welfare workers had overstepped their authority by removing the children from home.

Using genetic evidence, state attorneys argued this week that Jessop had fathered the child of a 16-year-old girl. She was just one of Jessop's nine wives. 

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Jessop's sentencing begins on Monday.

"Because trial proceedings are still ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time," Abbott said.

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