Royalties from the sale of a book in which Rena Chynoweth discloses her role in the murder of Rulon Allred will not be turned over to a receiver pending the outcome of a wrongful-death suit filed by Allred's widow and daughter.
In a ruling issued this week, U.S. District Judge Aldon Anderson said appointment of a receiver to take control of Chynoweth's assets before a judgment is rendered "would be improper."However, the judge also said that the likelihood of the Allred family ultimately prevailing on the wrongful death complaint is high.
Chynoweth was sued in July by Myrtle Lloyd Allred and Dorothy Allred Solomon, who asked the court for a writ of attachment against any royalties paid by Diamond Books, a Texas publisher, on sales of Chynoweth's book, "Blood Covenant."
Allred, a naturopathic practitioner and leader of a polygamist clan, was shot to death by two disguised women on May 10, 1977, in his Salt Lake County office. Chynoweth and three of her relatives were charged with the crime but were acquitted by a jury in 1979.
At the time, Chynoweth was married to outlaw polygamist leader Ervil LeBaron, who was convicted in a separate trial of plotting Allred's murder. LeBaron died in 1981 while serving a life sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Chynoweth's admission of guilt in her book as well as in national promotional appearances provoked an outcry from Allred's relatives, who argue that she shouldn't profit from the crime. Their lawsuit accuses Chynoweth of wrongful death and racketeering and seeks $130 million in damages.
Anderson's 13-page ruling said a federal court may appoint a receiver "only under extraordinary circumstances" and usually only when someone has a legal claim to the assets. The judge said Allred family members have made no claim of legal interest in the royalties other than as a potential satisfaction of a judgment yet to be obtained.
Noting that Chynoweth already has demonstrated "her proficiency in evasion and deception," Anderson conceded that there is a danger of concealment or dissipation of assets in anticipation of a potential judgment against her. To minimize the danger, he said he is willing to expedite the case as much as possible.
Although the crime occurred 13 years ago in a state with a two-year statute of limitations in wrongful-death suits, Anderson said the statute may be waived when an individual has concealed facts or misled the potential plaintiff.
He said if the facts are as presented by the Allreds, the statute could be waived in the suit. "Without the statute of limitations as a bar, and since defendant has freely admitted committing the murder, plaintiffs' likelihood of success on the wrongful death complaint is high," Anderson added.
"Notwithstanding the apparent merits of plaintiffs' claims and defendant's admissions of criminal acts, evasion and concealment, the appointment of a receiver would not significantly serve the ends of justice in this case," he concluded.