Forget Casey Anthony. Texas served up enough bizarre courtroom drama this year to keep Nancy Grace drooling. Here are the five cases from Texas courtrooms in 2011 that enthralled, amused, and horrified us.
1. Warren Jeffs
The August sexual assault trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs (sketched above) in Tom Green County Courthouse was surely the courtroom spectacle of the year.On the first morning of jury selection, Jeffs stunned onlookers with his announcement that he had (again) fired his legal team and now wanted to represent himself. Jurors, the press, and a crowd of interested San Angeloans spent the next two weeks listening to the state meticulously laying out its case that Jeffs had sexually assaulted two underage girls he had taken as his “spiritual wives.”
Jeffs’ defense amounted to a series of bizarre, lengthy monologues, long periods of silence, and even a threat from God, leading Texas Monthly’s Katy Vine to dub the proceedings “one of the most bizarre trials in U.S. history” in her definitive magazine piece on the trial from October. (For more from the courtroom, read Vine’s web dispatches from San Angelo.)
Jeffs was ultimately convicted and is serving out a life sentence, and the Dallas Morning News named the team of Texas Rangers,