Image: Warren Jeffs
Douglas C. Pizac / Pool  /  EPA
Warren Jeffs, left, waits for verdicts in his trial in St. George, Utah, on Sept. 25. He was convicted of  rape as an accomplice.
updated 11/6/2007 10:40:17 PM ET 2007-11-07T03:40:17

A polygamous-sect leader tried to hang himself in jail in January, eight months before a jury convicted him of rape as an accomplice, according to documents released Tuesday.

The disclosure was in an evaluation by mental-health expert Eric Nielsen, who examined Warren Jeffs in April and found him depressed but fit for trial.

The suicide attempt was not disclosed in May when a judge released portions of the report.

Jeffs, 51, is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was convicted in September of two counts of rape as an accomplice in the 2001 arranged marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin.

He could be sentenced to life in prison later this month. He also faces criminal charges in Arizona and in federal court in Utah.

Jeffs tried to commit suicide in his cell at the Washington County jail on Jan. 28, Nielsen wrote.

"He was interviewed the following day, and his mood was described as somber and dull," Nielsen wrote. "He has complained that he was feeling anxious."

On Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, Jeffs threw himself against the walls and banged his head, Nielsen said.

In April, when Nielsen examined him, Jeffs replied "not really" when Nielsen asked whether he had truly intended to kill himself.

State District Judge James Shumate on Tuesday released several court filings that had been sealed before the trial. They ranged from reports on Jeffs' mental health to pretrial disputes about evidence.

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