The defense said the FLDS practice of multiple "spiritual" or "celestial" marriages and argued that those marriages didn't count as marriages under the bigamy laws because they were not intended to be legal marriages.
The jurors didn't agree, and after deliberating for about 45 minutes Tuesday night and 45 minutes Wednesday morning, they found Nielsen guilty on all counts.
Nielsen was charged with marrying three women in 2006 when they were 43, 58 and 65, marrying two on the same day.
He was an FLDS president, also named a "bodyguard" of the prophet Rulon Jeffs, the father of Warren Jeffs. FLDS supreme leader Warren Jeffs assumed the position of the president in early 2011, although Rulon Jeffs had been the "prophet" throughout Nielsen's presidency. Jeffs is serving a sentence in the state prison at Palestine of life plus 20 years after being convicted last year for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, but Jeffs still retains control of the FLDS organization through his brothers.
Law enforcement authorities raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April 2008 to investigate allegations of sexual abuse. Twelve men, including Warren Jeffs, were indicted, and now 11 have been convicted of crimes such as child sexual assault and bigamy.
Nielsen's was the first bigamy case to go to trial. Others have pleaded no contest and accepted sentences of seven to eight years.
Nielsen had pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation, but he later withdrew his plea because he didn't like the terms of his probation and he wasn't able to transfer his probation to Colorado where he has family.
Documents filed by the state in 2010 allege that Nielsen also conducted ceremonies that wed 16-year old and 12-year-old girls to Warren Jeffs and has been involved in the marriage of 37 girls ages 12 through 16, and that 29 of those were bigamous.