Verdict In for Former FLDS Member on Trial in Midland

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- A former leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has found out his fate. Wendell Nielsen has been on trial in Midland for three counts of bigamy. On Wednesday, the jury found Nielsen guilty on all charges.

The 71-year-old didn't show much emotion as the judge read the verdict to the courtroom. On Wednesday afternoon, the second phase of the trial began.

Prosecuting Attorney, Eric Nichols, tells NewsWest 9, "The trial is starting the punishment phase of the case and any further comment at this point we'll refrain from making until the jury hears the evidence on punishment and makes its decision on punishment in the case."

Nielsen is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count. In the second phase of the trial, the prosecution told jurors they'll prove Nielsen abused his authority and allowed countless women and children within FLDS to become victims. They proceeded to show various documents proving Nielsen was married 35 times and fathered dozens of kids. One of his marriages, they report, was to an 18 year-old, when he was 60 years-old.

Shortly before adjourning for the day, the judge told Nielsen he could walk free on bond for the night, instead of getting cuffed and put into custody.

The punishment phase will continue on Thursday morning.