The Utah Court of Appeals denied Addam Swapp's request for a new state trial, saying prosecutors gave Swapp enough information about the charges against him to allow him to prepare an adequate defense.
Swapp had appealed his state manslaughter conviction to the court on the grounds that he was denied his constitutional right to know the particulars of the charges against him. In his appeal, Swapp said that the charges against him included three theories of murder that could be supported by any of the events that occurred during the 13-day siege at the Singer farm in January 1988.But Justices Judith M. Billings, Regnal W. Garff and Gregory K. Orme ruled Friday that the 12-page affidavit of probable cause filed by prosecutors gave Swapp and his attorney enough details about the case against Swapp to prepare a sound defense.
They noted that Swapp benefited further when prosecutors gave him a memorandum outlining their theory of Swapp's liability in the Jan. 28, 1988, shooting death of corrections officer Fred House.
The justices found that the trial judge did not err when he denied Swapp's motion for a bill of particulars. "A bill of particulars is not a device to enable the defendant to obtain a preview of the prosecution's evidence," the justices wrote. The accused is entitled to information that can help him fix the date, time and place of the offense, they wrote. Prosecutors provided Swapp with that information.
The justices also denied Swapp's request for a new sentence based on the claim that the first sentence was improper. Swapp claimed the trial court erred in sentencing him to a prison term consecutive to his federal prison term. A federal court had already sentenced Swapp to 25 years in a federal prison for the shooting of House and the Jan. 16 bombing of the Kamas LDS Stake Center. A state court sentenced Swapp to one to 15 years in prison for his role in House's death.
Swapp argued that state law at the time of his sentencing said that consecutive sentences may not be imposed if the minimum of all sentences imposed exceeded 12 years. Swapp argued that when the state sentence is added to the federal sentences for the same crimes that the minimum is more than 12 years.
However, the justices noted that the federal sentences imposed on Swapp carried no minimum and thus the law's restriction of an aggregate minimum of 12 years does not apply to Swapp.
The justices did support the aspect of the law that said the maximum of all sentences cannot exceed 30 years. While they affirmed the various federal and state sentences imposed on Swapp, they stressed that "all sentences cannot exceed 30 years."