Defense: polygamist leaders’ rights were violated

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SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) ? Attorneys defending polygamist leader Warren Jeffs plan to argue his right to religious freedom has been trampled by Texas prosecutors, who claim he sexually assaulted two girls.

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The church is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

The first public hint of the defense Jeffs plans to use came as attorney Deric Walpole argued unsuccessfully for a delay in the trial. Jeffs has gone through a half-dozen attorneys, all of whom have been tight-lipped about the case.

Jurors are to return Tuesday after completing questionnaires, and the prosecution and defense will have a chance to quiz them about their responses.