Jury selection began Wednesday in the Singer-Swapp case, with a conspiracy count dropped in the nine-count indictment and U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce Jenkins refusing to sever the case into more than one trial.
Altogether, 170 prospective jurors packed Jenkins' courtroom and listened to his instructions. They were to spend the rest of Wednesday filling out a questionnaire of at least 20 pages, with some 100 questions, about themselves. Some of them are to return to court Friday with the actual trial set to begin Tuesday morning.A flashy display occurred Wednesday when defendants Vickie Singer and Addam Swapp walked in. Singer was dressed all in white, with a white bow in her long hair. Even more eye-catching was Addam Swapp, who showed up wearing what looked like a homemade fringed buckskin jacket with an unusual flag sewn on the back.
The flag seemed similar to one flown at the Singer compound. Modeled on the American standard, it had white and blue stripes and a circle of stars on a blue field, surrounding one larger star. Also, Swapp's white collar was embroidered with symbols and set off with a red line at the top and bottom.
Jenkins had a clerk read the indictment, which showed reporters for the first time that the conspiracy charge against Vickie Singer, Addam Swapp and John Timothy Singer had been dismissed.
The remaining eight counts claim that: AddamSwapp and Vickie Singer tried to damage the Kamas LDS Stake Center on Jan. 16; the same two used a bomb in that activity; John Timothy Singer, Addam W. Swapp, Jonathan Ramon Swapp and Vickie Singer tried to kill federal agents Jan. 28; during the Jan. 28 shootout, the four defendants used a firearm or aided and abetted in its use; between Jan. 16 and Jan. 28, the four assaulted and impeded agents of the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, with an added claim they used a firearm at the time; in the same period the same four used a firearm in a crime of violence; Addam Swapp and Vickie Singer possessed and aided in the possession of a bomb; Vickie Singer possessed an unregistered sawed-off shotgun.
Jenkins said he and the attorneys tried to work out a system to save time in questioning prospective jurors. He had clerks pass out copies of what he called "a fairly lengthy questionnaire, quite frankly ladies and gentlemen."
Some areas about which some questions are asked are not particularly concrete, but were put there at the request of attorneys, and he asked jurors to just do the best they could in answering them.
Potential jurors were told they could use a table in the jury room, and five tables set up in the hallway outside his court. Because the questionnaire contained sensitive questions, the documents will only be examined by the court and attorneys and then be destroyed.
Just before the session with the jurors, Jenkins held a private hearing with attorneys, hammering out the final details and hearing arguments on a variety of motions. An earlier hearing was held behind closed doors Tuesday, ending at 6:45 p.m. with many important issues still unresolved.
Responding to a question about whether it would be possible to seat a fair jury, defense lawyer Kathryn Collard said, "Well, it'll be interesting to find out."
Asked whether the preparation has been adequate, Collard said, "I think it's very difficult for everybody involved. There's no question about it. It's a big case and it's very difficult, and I don't think anybody's going to have an easy time."
Collard added, "There's just such a tremendous amount of evidence, witnesses, documents, motions. A lot of these things interrelate."