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Of course it was about polygamy

Dramatic courtroom moment of the week, the month, maybe even the decade, took place Wednesday in the David Kingston incest-not-polygamy trial when deputy district attorney Dane Nolan got everyone sketching hotel rooms.

Two women said they were the wife who spent the night with Kingston at the Olympus Hotel in Park City the night of Oct. 15, 1998 -- and they were the only one.The Kingstons may be polygamists, but they still believe in just one wife -- at a time.

So Nolan had each of the women draw the room.

Then he had an assistant manager from the hotel come to the stand and also draw the room.

When the hotel manager's drawing matched the sketch done by Kingston's teenage niece -- the one alleging that incest took place -- and not the one drawn by Kingston's first wife, Sharli, the whole courtroom inhaled.

A Johnny Cochran moment.

You could have heard a plurality of pins drop.

So damaging was the hotel room evidence that Kingston's defense team stopped arguing about whether Kingston and his niece were married.

Even if they were married, said attorney Steve McCaughey in closing, it didn't mean they had sex.

Besides, define sex.

Look what Clinton got started.

The eight men on the all-male jury were not swayed by the "married, maybe; sex, uh-uh" argument and deliberated only long enough to make sure they got lunch, then came back with their verdict: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutor Nolan managed to keep a humble exterior, even if he had pulled off the legal equivalent of a two-hand, behind-the-back monster slamdunk.

Although he did allow himself a smile and a "sometimes, your ideas work" comment.

So just how did he come up with his clever let's-see-whose-telling-the-truth scheme? From the movies? From the TV law shows?

Nope, said Nolan, never watches them.

He was lying in bed a couple of weeks before the trial, thinking about the case, he said, and it came to him: Have the niece describe the hotel room for him, corroborate her story with the hotel and then play that card should the defense try to say Kingston was there with someone else.

He suspected something like that might happen.

Which is exactly what did happen.

Now it's all over but the lecture circuit for Nolan and, oh yeah, those perjury charges for Sharli Kingston.

The trial put the judge, David Young, in a tough position. He had to keep reminding everyone that it wasn't a case about polygamy but about incest, which kept out a lot of testimony such as just exactly why David Kingston would want to make his niece his 15th wife in the first place.

In a legal sense, Judge Young was absolutely right. The charge was incest, not plural marriage.

But try telling that to the reporters who flew in from the national newspapers or to Jay Leno, who said of the trial, "In Utah they've finally decided how many wives you can have. Fourteen, OK. But fifteen, you're going to jail."

At least the Olympic bribery scandal has died down.

Of course it was about polygamy. Polygamy made them all do it.

Without polygamy, no charges, no case, no loss of memory.

Without polygamy, no conflicting testimony.

Without polygamy, no hotel rooms to remember -- or forget.

Send e-mail to (benson@desnews.com), fax 801-237-2527. Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.