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

Mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

UFV wrestling program suspends operations

Team model scrapped, individual athletes will still be supported by the school

VIDEO: Iron Assassin’s Demolition Derby sets new Abbotsford Centre record

Debut event sells over 1,000 tickets at the door on Saturday

Crown seeking 30 months for Abbotsford vehicle theft, flight from police, Chilliwack crash

Michael Joseph Hasell has 47 criminal convictions on his record in B.C. and Alberta

Rainfall warning: Up to 70 mm expected across Fraser Valley

Environment Canada issued a weather warning heading into the long weekend

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Man driving wrong way on Highway 17 ‘seriously’ injured after crash: Surrey RCMP

Police say the driver hit a transport truck, then another car after merging from the off-ramp onto highway

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Most Read