Convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs hospitalized after fasting

Convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs hospitalized after fasting

Convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs hospitalized after fasting

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by The Associated Press and Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on August 29, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 29 at 2:01 PM

DALLAS (AP) -- A Texas prison official says polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has been hospitalized after not eating or drinking enough since his recent conviction on child sexual assault charges.

Michelle Lyons with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told The Associated Press on Monday that the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in critical but stable condition. Lyons said Jeffs told prison officials he had been fasting.

Jeffs attorney Emily Detoto told the AP that Jeffs was taken Sunday night to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. She says he "hasn't been feeling well" but wouldn't elaborate.

The 55-year-old was convicted earlier this month on charges that he sexually assaulted underage followers he took as spiritual brides.

Jeffs has been in protective custody, one of the most restrictive forms of imprisonment Texas has, at the Powledge Unit outside Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. Of the 156,000 prisoners in the Texas system, only 85, including Jeffs, are in protective custody.

Many have speculated that he would retain control of his FLDS followers from behind bars, which is where he's been for quite some time.

When his trial got under way in San Angelo at the end of July, the polygamous religious leader had been incarcerated for more than five years.

According to 3TV's Mike Watkiss, who was in the courtroom, Jeffs looked stooped, haggard and gaunt during that trial, which ended with his conviction and a life sentence plus 20 years and a $10,000 fine. Under his sentence, Jeffs is not eligible for parole until he's at least 100 years old.

Jeffs has a history of refusing to eat or drink. While in jail in Mohave County during the summer of 2009, Jeff was force-fed through a tube for about a week after he stopped eating and drinking and began to show signs of potentially serious malnutrition and dehydration. Dr. Kirsten Mortenson, the jail's medical director, said the tube was put in place to "prevent the possibility of imminent death." That feeding tube was removed once Jeffs started eating regular meals again.

A few days later, Jeffs embarked on another self-imposed fast and Mortenson reinserted the feeding tube.

Trish Carter, spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, said Jeffs' "on and off eating habits" had been an ongoing issue.

Jeffs' previous fasts have often coincided with court hearings and decisions involving himself individually and the FLDS as a whole.

It was not known how long Jeffs might be hospitalized.

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