Brian Lawrence/Creston Valley Advance
The decision for four members of the Bountiful polygamist community to be tried by judge or jury was put off in Creston Law Courts Thursday morning by Judge Ron Webb.
Winston Blackmore, James Oler, Brandon Blackmore and Emily Blackmore were to select their choice of trial today, having previously appeared in court Dec. 9 for the same purpose.
“We’re making good progress in advising Mr. Blackmore as to his options,” said Winston’s lawyer by phone.
Winston, who did not appear, and Oler lead separate factions in Bountiful, and were charged in August with polygamy, the indictment alleging Blackmore has 24 wives and Oler four.
Crown counsel Tom Arbogast explained there are “multiple terabytes of disclosure” to go through while the decision is being made.
“It’s a fairly unwieldy process,” he said.
The election date for Winston and Oler’s trial was moved to March 26.
Oler, Emily and Brandon have been charged with unlawfully removing a child under 16 from Canada with the intent that an offence of a sexual nature would be committed outside Canada. Their election date was put off until Feb. 26; Oler plans to be working in Athabasca, Alta., and will appear by phone.
“We do have some concerns about this matter getting dragged out,” said Arbogast.
Also today, Emily asked to have her passport returned so that she can shop in the U.S., mainly for herbs; she took the herbal practitioner course at Creston’s College of the Rockies.
“We have spoken to the RCMP and there’s a belief there could be a flight risk,” said Arbogast.
She and Brandon are charged with “wrongful removal of a child from Canada,” he added, and it is believed they have an “extensive network of contacts in Utah and Arizona.”
“I have responsibilities,” responded Emily. “I’ll return.”
COTR instructor Rachel Beck stood up on behalf of Emily.
“Her commitment to her family is so strong,” said Beck, who offered to act as surety if the passport is returned.
Webb asked Emily to present material on Feb. 26 showing him reason to return the passport, saying that shopping in the U.S. made the passport “nice to have as opposed to compelling.”
Winston and Emily previously appeared in court Dec. 4 to say they had retained counsel. Oler, whose faction is said to keep close ties with the followers of Warren Jeffs in the U.S., sent a similar message through Crown counsel. They initially appeared Oct. 9 without counsel, after being charged in August.