SALT LAKE CITY — The son of a Salt Lake pediatrician accused of killing his ex-wife asked a judge Friday to keep his father in jail on $1.5 million cash-only bail.
"All those closest to my family and me, closest to my mother, they are all walking targets," Pelle von Schwedler Wall told 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg.
Attorneys for John Brickman Wall had asked for a hearing to argue that the doctor's bail should be reduced to $100,000. Wall, 49, was charged in April with murder and aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies, in the 2011 death of Uta von Schwedler.
The judge denied the motion to reduce the bail from $1.5 million after hearing testimony from Pelle Wall and two other witnesses. She said she believes Wall is a flight risk who poses a danger to the community.
"I am persuaded that the bond as presently set is appropriate," she said, citing testimony given Friday, existing court documents and the fact that Wall has no medical license, job or family in Utah to tie him to the community.
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 1433 E. Harrison Ave., 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 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. He has been vocal in his belief that his father killed his mother.
The judge heard testimony from Pelle Wall, his adopted mother and Salt Lake police officer Cordon Parks, who said Wall has had conversations in jail with a woman in which they talked about going away together.
"He wishes he could take her away, somewhere they could put all this behind them," Parks said.
The woman apparently recently obtained a passport.
Parks also spoke of the "acrimonious" divorce between von Schwedler and Wall and disputes over custody, money and scheduling, as well as allegations of abuse on both sides. In one instance, von Schwedler had said Wall nearly struck her with his car while she was gardening before a neighbor said Wall kicked his ex-wife.
Wall alleged that he caught his ex-wife burglarizing his garage and that when he caught her, she either hit him or swung at him, Parks said. No charges were filed in either incident.
"They always seemed to be mad at each other," Parks said. "They never agreed on anything."
Prosecutor Paul Parker suggested that the animosity had come to a head the weekend before von Schwedler was killed and when she succeeded in getting a child custody evaluator appointed. Defense attorney Fred Metos asked a series of questions about whether injuries to von Schwedler's arms and legs could have been self-inflicted.
Pelle Wall spoke about his father's behavior after telling his four children that their mother was dead. He said he was preparing to leave for school when his father entered his room with his "extremely upset, crying" siblings behind him.
"His words to me were, 'Uta is dead and they think I did it,'" Pelle Wall testified. "He said, 'I feel like I need to jump, don't let me jump.' He said things along the lines of: 'Only a monster could have done this.' 'Am I a monster?' 'What If i did this and I don't remember?'"
He said his father got into a fetal position and cried on his bed saying, "I loved Uta so I couldn't have done that."
Pelle Wall said his father went to the hospital for six days, and that after a memorial service for his mother, there was a "general progression toward no contact" with his mother's family at his father's direction, which eventually extended to anyone who supported his mother.
Pelle Wall said he eventually began to fear for his own safety and left home in January 2012. He told the judge that he had seen his father's hatred for his mother and that it didn't subside after her death.
"To my amazement, it only grew," he said. "My father has demonstrated a willingness and ability to kill his enemy. There is extremely strong evidence he killed my mother. He had the motive, he had the means, he had the opportunity."
The judge said the testimony of Pelle Wall and Amy Oglesby, his adopted mother, was most compelling. Oglesby testified of an incident involving John Wall at the Salt Lake City International Airport in August 2012.
She said Wall came at her in a threatening and harassing way and told her to stay away from him and his family. She said she and Pelle Wall left the airport and decided to get something at a Jamba Juice store. She said they were ordering and were waiting for their drinks when John Wall showed up and began to come back at her again, telling her she didn't know who she was dealing with.Comment on this story
"I took what he did to me as a direct threat on my life," Oglesby said. "He came directly at me and he reiterated what he said at the airport, then he added, 'I should get a restraining order against you.'"
The judge said this incident spoke to John Wall's instability.
"The defendant deliberately targeted, followed and indeed stalked Ms. Oglesby and his conduct reasonably caused her to fear for her safety," she said.
Pelle Wall said after the hearing that he was "thrilled" with the judge's decision.
A preliminary hearing has been set in the case for October.