Belief Beat

It’s going to be a sour November for Mormons, with long-awaited trial dates now set for Warren Jeffs, the former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Brian David Mitchell, the self-proclaimed prophet accused of abducting Elizabeth Smart seven years ago.

The official Church of Latter-day Saints abandoned plural marriage more than 100 years ago, prompting FLDS to form their own compounds; Mitchell was excommunicated for his extreme views before the kidnapping. Nevertheless, frustrated church officials and disgusted Mormons will surely have their hands full raising these points repeatedly, as both high-profile proceedings get underway this fall.

Some background information, courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune and the Mohave Daily News:

Warren Jeffs, 54, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Arizona for serving as an accomplice to rape in his polygamist communities. The next trial, for charges related to men having sex with underage girls, is set to begin Nov. 2.

–Brian David Mitchell, 56, charged with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor, allegedly wanted to make the then-14-year-old Smart his plural wife. He and wife Wanda Barzee were arrested in March 2003, and were repeatedly declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. (Barzee pleaded guilty last fall and agreed to testify against Mitchell in exchange for a 15-year prison term.) Mitchell’s trial is set for Nov. 1 in Salt Lake City, but his attorneys plan to file for a change of venue, perhaps to another state.

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