Jim Oler (front) walks towards the Cranbrook Law Courts building. (Trevor Crawley/Cranbrook Townsman)

New trial in B.C. child bride case underway

James Marion Oler back in court after crown lawyers successfully appealed earlier acquittal decision

A new trial is underway for a former leader of a polygamous community near Creston charged with removing his underage daughter from Canada to marry an American man in 2004.

James Marion Oler, a fundamentalist Mormon leader associated with Bountiful, was previously acquitted of the same charge following a trial in 2017, however, the acquittal was successfully overturned by Crown prosecutors in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The appeal court awarded a new trial, which began in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday in front of Justice Martha Devlin.

READ: New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson and Micah Rankin are leading the case for the Crown, while Oler is self-represented. However, Joe Doyle, who served as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial during the first proceedings, has returned to serve in the same role.

Witnesses called include Nick Hanna, a Texas Ranger who was part of an investigative team that seized documents and evidence from the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch over six days in April 2008.

The compound, near Eldorado, Texas, consisted of members associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an off-shoot of the mainstream Mormon faith that practices polygamy.

READ: Two of three people found guilty in B.C. child bride case

Hanna testified on the nature of the evidence collected by investigators in the compound’s temple vault and temple annex vault that included items such as marriage and priesthood records, photo albums, computers, and thumb drives.

Texas rangers executed a search warrant at the YFZ ranch on the evening of April 3, 2008, with Hanna as one of the investigators who served as evidence custodian.

A temple vault that took a locksmith 24 continuous hours to crack was eventually opened, while a vault inside a nearby temple annex was accessed by drilling through the concrete side.

Among the records seized included a record of marriage between Oler’s daughter, whose identity is protected by a publicatoin ban, and James Leroy Johnson.

Crown expects to call other witnesses such as experts in mainstream Mormon and fundamentalist Mormon doctrine, as well as RCMP investigators who assisted American police authorities.

William Jessop, the former bishop of prominent FLDS communities on the border of Arizona and Utah collectively known as Short Creek, will testify in the coming days.

David Allred, an American citizen considered to be a part of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs’ inner circle, was expected to participate in the proceedings, however, Crown said Allred recently announced he had changed his mind and would not testify.

Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore were prosecuted on the same offence alongside Oler, however, they were found guilty and sentenced to 12 months and seven months, respectively, in jail.

In an unrelated matter, Oler was also convicted of polygmay alongside Winston Blackmore last year and sentenced to three months house arrest — a sentence he has already completed, but remains on probation.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: L.V. Rogers sends off its grad class

Check out our pictures of the festivities

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

COLUMN: 1919 – Police chief reminds drivers of streetcar etiquette

Greg Scott takes us back to a century ago in the files of the Nelson Daily News

Nelson archers host meet

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club hosted 78 archers

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read