Polygamist Warren Jeffs condition was upgraded from critical to serious Wednesday, according to Texas prison officials after an outstanding prosecution orchestrated by Wichita Falls native Greg Abbott led to a sentence of life plus twenty years for the leader of the FLDS church.
Jeffs faces a bigamy jury trial in Texas in October.
Does Jeffs want to be a martyr or remain as leader of the polygamous sect from inside a dreary prison cell?
That question was raised Wednesday after lengthy fasting by Jeffs caused him to be removed from his penitentiary residence at the Powledge Unit southeast of Dallas to the East Texas Medical Facility in Tyler, Texas Sunday for treatment.
His odyssey through the Texas prison system continued Tuesday as he was transferred to Hospital Galveston, which adjoins the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Prison officials announced Wednesday that Jeffs’ medical condition improved from critical to serious as he remains in custody in Galveston.
Penitentiary officials also announced he is expected to make a full recovery. He is currently being treated for dehydration.
While his improved medical condition points to a return to physcial health, what are his goals?
One school of thought has been that he wants to be a martyr to his 10,000 followers in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church.
Supporters of this theory point to the fact he allegedly tried to hang himself in 2007 in his Washington County, Utah jail cell while he awaited trial on rape charges in the Beehive State.
Advocates of this position point to his refusal to eat anything since being incarcerated in a Texas prison.
One follower was quoted as saying this week that “he wants to be a martyr.”
But there are others who believe he will continue to lead the FLDS church from prison in Texas once his recovery is complete.
He was alleged to have sexually assaulted as many as 24 underage girls who he took as “spiritual wives”, by the prosecution team put together by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
While Jeffs claims his religion authorizes him to have 80 wives, Abbott counters with the statement that there is no justification for the sexual assault of underage girls.
Plural marriages lead to exaltation in heaven, according to Jeffs and his followers.
Testimony during his recent trial revealed allegations that he threatened a young man with eternal damnation for being interested in a girl in one of the FLDS compounds. Jeffs also threatened Judge Barbara Walther with severe reprisals for her role in the trial.
In addition to that he promised disasters would visit all the counties involved in his prosecution.
Whatever Jeffs decides to do with his future, it will be an interesting story to follow.
The Wichita Falls law enforcement officials who participated in the raid which collected evidence for the Jeffs trial deserve recognition as does Attorney General Greg Abbott, the architect of this mammoth prosecution effort.
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