Crown prosecutors wrapped up their case in the trial of a trio of members from the polygamous community of Bountiful on Tuesday in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
Final witnesses included testimony from former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) community, while an RCMP investigator also gave evidence on records and documentation seized by American law enforcement at an FLDS compound in Texas in 2008.
James Oler, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Blackmore are facing alleged child trafficking charges in relation to transporting underage minors across the Canadian border to be married to members of FLDS communities in the U.S.
The trial will break until next Monday, as Crown and defence lawyers will present closing arguments.
Brandon James Blackmore is the only one of the three with a defence lawyer — John Gustafson — while James Oler and Emily Blackmore are self-represented. However, James Oler and Emily Blackmore have the services of Joe Doyle, who is acting as amicus — a court-appointed representative who protects the integrity of the proceedings, but cannot provide legal advice.
All three accused are not mounting a defence against the prosecution’s case.
Crown calls evidence
Cst. Shelley Livingstone with the RCMP detachment in Creston provided documentation evidence, both gathered by police in Canada, as well as records seized by U.S. law enforcement.
She produced three birth certificates, including two for the complainants, which show that they would have been 13- and 15-years old when they were married in 2004.
Livingstone testified she has been involved with the investigation since 2005.
Further evidence included the testimony of a former female member of the FLDS whose identity is protected by a publication ban.
The witness, a young woman in her twenties, spoke about being taken across the border by Brandon James Blackmore at the Porthill/Rykerts crossing in June 2004.
Driving across in a minivan, it stopped at a rest area shortly after, where the witness left to relieve herself in a wooded area.
When she returned, another van had arrived that contained James Oler and one of the underage children at the heart of the removal of child from Canada charges, who also can’t be named because of a publication ban, and others.
The witness testified they then drove to Cedar City, Utah, arriving close to midnight and that it was her understanding that one of the unnamed complainants was to be married.
According to a priesthood record dated June 25, 2004, the complainant was married to James Leroy Johnson in Mesquite, Nevada, in a ceremony performed by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs with James Oler as one of the witness.
The witness also testified she knew the other complainant quite well, who had the Bountiful community around the beginning of March 2004.
Son takes the stand
Brandon Seth Blackmore, the son of Brandon James Blackmore, took the witness stand, giving evidence on his relationship with one of the complainants and growing up in the FLDS faith.
Brandon Seth Blackmore, 33, spoke about being called down to Colorado City, Nevada, in March 2004. When he arrived, he learned he was to be married to Rosemaria Johnson, who he only met a few minutes before the ceremony started.
James Oler, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Blackmore, along with one of the unnamed complainants, were around the city during the week he was there, Brandon Seth Blackmore testified.
The unnamed complainant—his sister—was also married to FLDS Warren Jeffs on the same day, he added.
He identified her voice in a disturbing audio recording of her with Warren Jeffs.
Brandon Seth Blackmore returned to Canada the next day after his wedding, but didn’t find out his sister had married Warren Jeffs until 2010.
He testified he is no longer a part of the FLDS community.
The Crown and defence will present their closing arguments on Monday, Dec. 5.