SAN ANGELO, Texas – A Texas jury convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs of child sexual assault Thursday, in a case stemming from two young followers he took as brides in what his church calls “spiritual marriages.”

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stood stone-faced as the verdict was read. Jeffs, who acted as his own attorney, stood mostly mute for his closing argument, staring at the floor for all but a few seconds of the half hour he was allotted. At one point he mumbled, “I am peace,” and said no more.

Jeffs, 55, had claimed his religious rights were being trampled on and that God would seek revenge if the trial continued. He now faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors used DNA evidence to show Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and played an audio recording of what they said was him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. They also played audio recordings in which Jeffs was heard instructing young women on how to please him sexually.

The FLDS is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism and believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven and Jeffs is God’s spokesman on earth.

Police raided the group’s remote West Texas ranch in April 2008, finding women dressed in frontier-style dresses and hairdos from the 19th century as well as seeing underage girls who were clearly pregnant. Authorities brought charges against several men from the group, with Jeffs by far the highest-profile defendant.

The sentencing phase of the trial started right after the verdict, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he expects it to take three days.

“There will be a tremendous amount of evidence, showing a lot more detail to the jury,” he said. “The jurors, and Texans in general, are going to learn a lot more about the background of Warren Jeffs.”

Abbott and prosecutors said the case had nothing to do with Jeffs’ church or his beliefs.

“You have heard the defendant make repeated arguments about religious freedoms,” lead prosecutor Eric Nichols said. “Make no mistake, this case is not about any people, this case is not about any religion. It is about one individual, Warren Steed Jeffs, and his actions.”

“You might have asked yourselves,” Nichols said, “a lot of people may ask, why would someone record sex? … This individual considers himself to be the prophet. Everything he did, hour after hour, he was required to keep a record of that.”