Bail decision delayed for doctor accused of killing ex-wife
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake pediatrician accused of killing his ex-wife appeared in court Monday to ask for reduced bail but agreed to postpone the request.
Attorneys for John Brickman Wall had asked for a bail hearing to address their motion asking that the doctor's bail be reduced to $100,000. But 3rd District Judge Robin Reese said he would not be making any substantial changes due to his relative unfamiliarity with the case.
Defense attorney Fred Metos indicated he would rather wait for a hearing before the assigned judge, Denise Lindberg. He said state law only allows for "one real shot at bail" and he wanted to take his case for a reduction to the judge who is most familiar with the case.
"In this country, a person is presumed innocent," Metos said, explaining why he believes the reduction is warranted. "He has no criminal history, no history of violence. Based on that, he is not considered a danger to the community."
Wall, 49, was charged last month with murder and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies. He is currently being held on $1.5 million bail.
Wall is accused of entering the home of his ex-wife, Uta von Schwedler, and killing her. Her body was discovered in an overflowing bathtub at her home at 1433 E. Harrison Ave. (1625 South), on Sept. 27, 2011. The cause of death was determined by the medical examiner to be drowning. But she also had a "fatal or near fatal amount of Xanax in her body," according to charging documents.
The medical examiner, however, could not determine whether the death was a homicide or suicide. Wall remained a person of interest for two years as the case was investigated. The couple's oldest son, Pelle von Schwedler Wall, now 19, moved out of his father's house when he turned 18 and tried to get the court to remove his siblings from his father's house for their safety. The son was vocal in his belief that his father killed his mother.
"I think we're all happy with the outcome and that my father is still in jail," Pelle Wall said after the hearing. "I'm hopeful I'll be able to speak at the next hearing."
Pelle Wall's attorneys have filed a letter in court asking that an expert opinion from a renowned criminal psychologist be allowed in court and considered in the bail hearing. Richard D. Walter wrote that Wall was "arrogant" and a "narcissistic parasite" who had the motive and opportunity to kill his ex-wife and could kill again. He believes the woman was attacked while she was sleeping and was forced to swallow Xanax.
But defense attorneys for Wall don't believe the psychologist's assessment should be allowed in court, arguing that there are no legal grounds for it and it amounts to nothing more than conjecture.
Reese declined to address the issue Monday.
A number of supporters of Pelle Wall were in court Monday wearing stickers that read: "Justice for Uta." Among them was Heidi Schubert, who worked with Uta von Schwedler at the University of Utah and who disagreed with the characterization of Wall as someone who doesn't represent a danger to the community.
"He's a danger to the people Uta cared about," Schubert said. "He's behind bars now. That's what matters."
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