Winston Blackmore attends court to file an application separating his polygamy trial from his co-accused James Oler. (Trevor Crawley/Cranbrook Townsman)

Marriage records entered in Bountiful polygamy trial

Special prosecutor identifies religious documents indicating Winston Blackmore and James Oler participated in multiple marriages

A Texas Ranger who was part of a team that seized religious documents at a ranch in the U.S. took to the stand in the trial of two members of a polygamous sect south of Creston on Wednesday in Cranbrook.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler, both members of Bountiful, are on trial facing polygamy charges that were filed in August 2014 by a special prosecutor.

Ranger Nick Hanna and US law enforcement executed a search warrant on the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch in Eldorado, Texas in April 2008. The raid was initially based on the report of a sexual assault, however, after investigators spent three days on the property, the warrant was expanded, according to Hanna.

During the Eldorado raid, Texas Rangers seized over 300 boxes of evidence, including marriage and priesthood records for members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the U.S. and Canada that were locked away inside a concrete vault.

Hanna described how tight security was at the YFZ ranch, as it was in a remote location and fenced around the perimeter at 12 feet high, while the main temple building was also fenced with a barrier taller than six feet.

Inside the temple, the temple annex was locked with thick oak doors, while the temple vault was encased with concrete that took a locksmith expert over 24 hours to defeat the mechanism.

“It was just a series of obstacles put in place by the FLDS to ensure the security of the documents [inside],” said Hanna.

Instead of going through the vault door, law enforcement ended up entering the vault by drilling through the side wall, with a Ranger gaining access through a small hole, where he seized documents in bank boxes kept in cabinet drawers.

After the documents were seized and catalogued, an affidavit was sworn on Aug. 8, 2008 detailing a list of FLDS marriage and personal records relating to Winston Blackmore and James Oler.

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson entered 24 marriage records for Blackmore into evidence that were dated back to 1990 and up to 2008. Some records include marriages to two different women that are recorded to have occurred on the same day.

Wilson also entered four marriage records for Jim Oler to women between 1993 and 2004.

Wilson also cross-referenced a personal record for Oler against personal records for the women he married that were also seized by law enforcement.

On cross-examination, Blair Suffredine, the defence counsel for Blackmore, attacked the credibility of the personal and marriage records, noting that there was no way to tell who the original author of the records are.

Suffredine pointed out some of the records seized were not original copies as the documents have markings indicative of being sent to the YFZ ranch by fax machine.

Just Posted

Custom motorcycle and wood cutter stolen from Sooke motorcycle shop

2006 Husqvarna motorcycle and 2-ton log splitter taken from outbuilding

Remember Spunky? Santa came out to Sidney to check on him

Red-tailed Hawk made headlines last year after being stolen, raised by eagles

MISSING: 59-year-old Pamela Fletcher

Fletcher was last seen in the area near Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 10

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to keep them in the loop

Call the hotlines for concerns on local provincial highways

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Woman guilty of impaired driving in death of Vancouver Island pedestrian

Man in his 70s killed in 2016 Courtenay multi-vehicle incident

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read