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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. police watchdog group investigating after June 1 death of Kitimat man

The man was reported to have fallen a number of times while in police custody on May 30

Skeena MLA advocates for small LNG project in Terrace

Many questions unanswered about project, say opponents

CGL completes first in-field pipeline welds for Kitimat section of project

‘I never thought I’d live to see this day:’ Skeena MLA praises start of pipeline welding in Kitimat

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

Housing committee recommends District deny strata application for 1425 Nalabila Boulevard

Council is set to consider the matter at their June 1 meeting

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

School District 82’s first week of in-person class is in the books

First classes held since schools closed March 17 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read