PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A seven-week trial involving two polygamous towns across the Arizona-Utah border is coming to an end. The US Department of Justice accused town leaders of discriminating against residents who are not part of that religion.
Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah are primarily populated by members of the FLDS church. The feds say non-FLDS residents were denied housing, water, and police protection.
The towns are accused of violating the 1st, 4th, and 14th amendments to the constitution as well as the fair housing act. Before the jury began deliberating the prosecutor argued that despite the towns having councils, mayors, and police departments, it's really the church that calls the shots.
Colorado City is the former home of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. Even though he is in prison, the federal government says he has influence over the town and city leaders often take direction from the church. They also accused the town marshal of ignoring the abuse of underage girls and conducting improper investigations.
In their closing arguments, federal prosecutors said: "What city officials cannot do is take orders from the church to conduct official city business."
"The story has got to go out, the truth has got to go out, that the discriminatory practices handed out from the church to its members," said Dowane Barlow.
Barlow testified for the federal government.
"I hope for some major change in the city government and the police force. We need to be normalized, the city needs to follow protocol, they need, to be honest, open, fair, and upright, that is all that we're asking," said Barlow.
Defense attorneys argued that the city was following protocols and attempted to discredit many of the government witnesses. They also accused the federal government of going after town officials because they disapprove of the FLDS church.
"If you have got a town of fewer than 10,000 people, and you have all the power and resources of the federal government, and they are willing to bring these claims and not bring claims against the church which clearly was the entity that was creating the chaos that they have been talking about for 7 weeks. If they are going to do it in Colorado City and Hilldale, where else are they going to do it. Who is next?" said Jeff Matura.
The jury now has seven weeks of testimony to review, they began deliberation around 2:30 p.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m., they will be back deliberating on Thursday.