Federal prosecutors say they are waiting for further FBI ballistics reports in the Singer-Swapp case, raising the possibility that they may no longer believe wheelchair-bound John Timothy Singer fired the shot that killed officer Fred House.
House was killed during a gunfire exchange that ended the 13-day standoff at the Singer's Marion, Summit County farm in January.U.S. Attorney Brent Ward Friday that some evidence is still coming in. Among the evidence are "certain ballistics results . . . which have become more important in light of discoveries made in analyzing the government's videotape evidence."
Federal officers had set up videotaping equipment just outside the Singer compound and were filming the events at the time of the shoot-out. At one time, the report was circulated that the cameras were unable to pick up the actual shooting, but that the sounds of the shots were recorded.
Meanwhile Friday, motions upon motions by defense lawyers in the case were denied late Friday afternoon by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins, who also denied a government move to delay the trial, set for April 6.
Jenkins allowed spectators into his courtroom at 4 p.m. Friday, after they had camped outside most of day. Hearings were held in secret because some information that was argued might not be accepted in court.
Against the objections of his client, one defense lawyer also joined in the motion for a continuance. Both he and Ward said they could not properly prepare in the short time remaining before trial.
The other defense lawyers argued against postponing.
The trial date might change during the next two days of hearings, Jenkins conceded. But he added, "People are entitled to a speedy trial . . . Let's do the best we can."
Jenkins ruled that statements made by Addam Swapp after he was arrested on Jan. 28 and before he met his lawyer nearly 24 hours later were admissible as evidence. But he said Swapp was legally warned statements he made could be used against him, and a sheriff's department officer to whom he talked was identified.
Lynn Huffman, the officer, put on her fur-collared coat and "Smoky the Bear" hat before Jenkins Friday afternoon. She wore both when she entered Swapp's hospital room, and both carried star emblems. Also, Swapp spoke with her about a relative who worked for the sheriff's department, Jenkins noted.
He "was aware of her identity," the judge said.
Denying the motion to suppress a tape-recorded statement by John Timothy Singer, he said Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau special agents were informed the youth of his rights.
"I'm perfectly satisfied they were very, very careful in the manner they proceeded," he said. Singer had "good understanding" and gave information voluntarily.
Jenkins refused to suppress as evidence Vickie Singer's journal, but said he is reserving on the motion to suppress other material seized from her. This is prayer material, and might be protected as private material.
Bruce Savage, representing Jonathan Swapp, attempted to have his client declared incompetent to assist in his defense. But Jenkins said Swapp is able to assist, even though "he disputes (Savage's advice) and doesn't follow instructions."
Arguments on whether the first three counts of the indictment should be dismissed charges relating to the bombing of the Kamas LDS Stake Center on Jan. 16 will be aired on Monday.
When Ward said he was making the motion to delay the trial with trepidation, Jenkins joked, "That's the first subject you've ever approached with trepidation, that I know of."
Ward said he wanted to delay because of the unusual nature of the case. So far, more than 2,000 pages of documentary evidence are being sifted.
The government has worked diligently, he said, "and yet for no case can I remember being less prepared on the eve of trial." It's because of the great number of motions that were filed, the difficulty with grand jury matters, and the complexity of the case, Ward said.