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West Texas Jury Ready To Sentence Polygamist Leader

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MIDLAND (AP) – A Texas jury that found a former polygamist leader guilty of bigamy is expected to begin deciding his punishment.

Wendell Loy Nielsen could be sentenced early as Friday. He is the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was once a top lieutenant to Warren Jeffs in the polygamist sect.

Nielsen was found guilty Wednesday of having multiple marriages, and testimony in the trial’s sentencing phase ended Thursday. The 71-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison.

Nielsen could have avoided jail altogether. But he renounced his original plea deal with prosecutors last year because he felt the probation conditions were too restrictive.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)