Chief U.S. District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins closed pre-trial hearings again Tuesday morning in the Singer-Swapp case, and observers would not say if the hearings might alter the scheduled beginning of trial Wednesday.
Monday afternoon, Jenkins denied a motion by Vickie Singer to dismiss three counts relating to the bombing of the Kamas LDS Stake Center.The attempt to dismiss the first three charges of the nine-count indictment was based on the fact that the federal anti-bombing statute covers buildings used in interstate commerce or affecting commerce. This is because the Constitution limits Congress' role in some areas to regulating trade across state lines, with strictly in-state police keeping relegated to the states.
Midway in the day of hearings, Jenkins concluded that the legislative history of the anti-terrorist act indicates church buildings were meant to be covered.
"Congress does what it often does leaves the difficult questions for the court," the judge said.
The act is broad, he said. At one time during the debate over its passage, it was worded to protect buildings used for business. A congressman questioned whether that would cover such places as police buildings, synagogues and churches. So the wording was changed to delete the phrase "for business purposes."
Jenkins said the law covers buildings affecting interstate commerce, and the government said its witnesses would testify that activities carried on there have an effect on commerce across state lines. For example, missionaries are supported around the world, donations go to support church work everywhere, and some church equipment is purchased from out of state.
During the trial, the government will have to prove that the stake center affected interstate commerce, he said.
"I think the motion brought (to dismiss the counts) made quite a lot of sense, quite frankly," he said.
The federal court is one of "limited jurisdiction," Jenkins said. It can only get into areas delineated by Congress.
There was a "far-reaching effort by Congress . . . The interesting question is, what remains (not covered by the federal law)? Indeed, what remains?"
After the ruling, the court went into secret session to consider further motions.
When the trial starts, the four defendants will face these charges: Count 1, conspiracy to commit crimes, including the bombing; 2, blowing up the Kamas Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Jan. 16; 3, using a bomb in commission of a crime; 4, attempting to kill FBI officers on Jan. 28, the date of the shoot-out at Marion, Summit County, when Corrections Lt. Fred House was killed at the Singer-Swapp farm; 5, aiding and abetting in the use of a firearm during the shoot-out; 6, assaulting federal officers during the 13-day armed standoff; 7, using a firearm in the standoff; 8, possessing a bomb; 9, possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
Vickie Singer is charged in all nine counts. Addam Swapp is charged in all but the last. Counts 4-7 were lodged against Jonathan Swapp, and John Timothy Singer is charged with 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.