Addam Swapp's attorney told the Utah Court of Appeals Monday that Swapp didn't get a fair trial in the 1988 death of a state corrections officer because the state refused to specify exactly what Swapp did to cause the officer's death.
It was clear what Timothy Singer did, said Swapp's attorney."He's charged with shooting out that window and killing Fred House," said attorney John Bucher.
But prosecutors never made it clear what Swapp did to merit a manslaughter charge, he argued.
"It is not obvious to me now, nor was it then, how Addam Swapp intentionally killed," Bucher told the court. Prior to Swapp's state trial, Bucher asked prosecutors to supply a Bill of Particulars, detailing exactly what Swapp did to cause House's death. A 3rd District Court judge ruled that the particulars were not necessary to Swapp's defense.
Bucher disagreed. In a brief before the court, he said the probable cause statement - a document roughly outlining the reasons a person is charged with a crime - gave three theories of murder, named three defendants, said the crimes resulting in murder could have been committed any time over the 13-day siege and cited scores of facts leading to House's death.
"But they didn't say which of those facts proved that Mr. Swapp committed murder," Bucher said.
At the time House was shot, Swapp was fighting off police dogs several yards away. Swapp bombed the Kamas LDS Stake Center, Bucher told the court. He shot out lights and speakers erected to annoy him and his family during a 13-day stand-off between the Singer-Swapp clan and police. But he did not kill House, Bucher said.
"Mr. Swapp has never been given a plain and concise statement of what he was charged with," he argued.
The state disagreed. "We provided the defendant with numerous legal memoranda and affidavits," supporting the manslaughter charge, said assistant Utah Attorney General Creighton Horton.
"In this case, we went the extra mile and presented Mr. Bucher not only with the facts in the case, but the state's theory (of the murder) as well," he said.
Swapp never expressed surprise during his trial over the facts the state used to prosecute him, nor did he claim during the trial that he had not been given enough particulars, Horton said.
Bucher disagreed, saying he was surprised by some of the evidence used against Swapp and could have defended Swapp more effectively if the prosecution had specified acts of Swapp that killed House.
An attorney for John Timothy Singer argued Singer's appeal before the appeals court Monday morning as well.
Singer has appealed his conviction of manslaughter in the Jan. 20, 1988, death of House on the grounds that federal officers questioning him following the shooting violated his constitutional rights when they persisted in talking about the 13-day siege between police and the Singer family after Singer said he didn't want to talk any more.
Two appeals judges expressed concern that the state may have coerced statements from Singer by persuading him to talk after he said he didn't want to.
Judge Gregory K. Orme said that a "scrupulous interpretation" of Miranda v. Arizona "does not include chitchat aimed at the defendant" after the defendant said he didn't want to talk.
Judge Judith Billings said statements the federal officers made to Singer after he said he didn't want to talk almost amounted to "trickery."
"I guess we'll never know what Singer would have said had the officers scrupulously respected Singer's right to remain silent," Orme said.
The two appeals were heard by Orme, Billings and Judge Regnal Garff.
If Swapp and Singer prevail, each will win a new trial.