- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on closing arguments from a federal civil rights trial against two polygamous towns in Arizona and Utah accused of discrimination (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Jurors have begun deliberating at a trial against two communities on the Arizona-Utah line that are accused of discriminating against people who weren’t members of a polygamous sect.

Lawyers completed closing arguments Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.

The jury has been hearing testimony in the case since Jan. 20.

The Justice Department alleges the towns discriminated against nonbelievers by denying them water services, housing and police protection.

The towns deny the charge and say the federal government is persecuting the communities because it disapproves of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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12:45 p.m.

A U.S. Justice Department lawyer tells jurors at a trial against communities in Arizona and Utah accused of doing the bidding of a polygamous sect that city officials took orders from church leaders on whom to appoint to government positions.

Sean Keveney says city officials in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, then rubber-stamped the wishes of leaders from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Closing arguments were held Wednesday during the trial’s seventh week.

The Justice Department says the towns discriminate against nonbelievers by denying them housing, water services and police protection.

Colorado City attorney Jeff Matura urged jurors to reject the discrimination allegation and deny six people monetary damages.

Matura says the federal government is persecuting town officials because it disapproves of their religion.

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3:05 a.m.

Closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday in a civil rights case against two cities on the Arizona-Utah line that are accused of discriminating against people who aren’t members of a polygamous sect.

Jurors have been hearing witnesses in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, since mid-January.

Both towns are accused of acting of functioning as agents of a polygamous sect and discriminating against nonbelievers by denying them housing, water services and police protection.

They deny the allegations and say religion isn’t a motivating factor in their decisions. They believe the government is discriminating against them based on their religion.

The trial has provided a rare glimpse into towns that for decades have been shrouded in secrecy and possess a deep-seated loathing of government and outsiders.

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