Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer were each sentenced Friday afternoon to 10 years in prison and five years probation for attacking federal officers and using guns in the siege and shootout at Marion, Summit County.
U.S. District Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins gave them the minimum prison term required by Congress - five years for each firearms violation.He indicated that by giving probation on other counts, the overall sentence was more balanced, and presumably more in line with what he would have handed down without the requirement for minimum mandatory terms.
"I haven't got very much to say," Jonathan Swapp told the court. "I'd just like to let you know that whatever does happen, whatever I do get, I'm willing to face."
According to Swapp, some of his beliefs "well, they've been trampled, they've been made a mockery of, they've been made a joke of . . . . These things to me are the most important things in my life . . . . I will die for my God, I will go to prison for life for my God."
The fact that Jenkins had to give a minimum of five years, in consecutive terms, for each firearms count sparked a heated confrontation with U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward.
The judge called for Congress to re-examine the wisdom of imposing flat minimum sentences without regard for the matrix of stress, feelings and background involved. He said he thinks it is bad public policy and shortsighted.
But Ward responded, "I think Congress is saying, `If you're going to commit a crime, you leave your gun at home, you leave your bomb at home.' "
The sentences imposed against Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer were similar to that ordered earlier in the day for Vickie Singer - the mandatory five-year term on a firearms charge plus five years on probation.
The single departure from the minimum was in the case of Addam Swapp, who was sent to prison for 15 years and put on probation for five more. In addition to two minimum five-year terms on the firearms count, he got five years for blowing up the LDS stake center in Marion.
Bruce Savage, representing Jonathan Swapp, said he didn't know there was much new he could say about his client. Swapp's life "has now been picked apart, played on television, written in newspapers," and studied by government agents, he said. He has been examined psychologically, and his life, romance and most intimate mental workings placed before the court.
He said Swapp would prefer not to blame anyone except himself. But Savage said that in his youth, at a time when people are often in college supporting causes, Swapp "adopted . . . the problems of others. Many of those were the past problems of others."
By this, he meant the matrix of beliefs and animosities that the Singer-Swapp family found themselves in.
Savage quoted from the movie "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," where a young man, Gabriel, says about his brother, Adam, "that he stands with Adam."
"What we have here," Savage said, "is Jonathan who said, like Gabriel, `I stand with Addam.' " He cast his lot with Addam Swapp. Because of that, as well as his own independent desires, Jonathan ended up in court, Savage said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard N. Lambert argued for a stiff sentence and said that only Thursday night did prosecutors discover they could demand a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for a defendant's second firearms violation in the same case.
Defense lawyers argued in favor of only five years for each of the firearms violations, and Jenkins agreed they were correct.
"Mr. Swapp, the bottom line is, he committed a most serious crime," Lambert said. "That is the attempted murder of special agents of the FBI."
Unlike Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp "put two actual projectiles through the open door" of the Bates home, where agents waited the morning that Corrections Lt. Fred House was slain.
"It's nearly miraculous the agents weren't hit," he said.
The maximum penalty for attempted murder is 20 years, which the prosecutor recommended.
Swapp disputed his attorney's statement that he took on the problems of others. "Things that I do I do not do for any other man," he said. He acted because he followed God, Swapp declared.
He told Jenkins he would do "just fine" wherever he goes, and said he would be able to handle the sentence.
Jenkins said Swapp was shown to be an intelligent man and advised him to "devote some of your gray matter - you've got some - to productive things." He said he could improve his skills in prison.
"I plan on making the most out of whatever happens," Swapp said.
John Timothy Singer, who has grown a beard, expressed remorse for the death of House but defended his action in the shootout.
"I believe that in the morning of the shootout that I was protecting my brother-in-law (Addam Swapp) and his brother (Jonathan Swapp) also. It was a self-defense action."
He fired from his bedroom window, just firing without aiming, he said. He said he was not shooting at the FBI and state agents. "I saw the dogs (police dogs that were to be used to arrest the Singers and Swapps) and I did something about it," he said.
Singer spoke about House's death, mentioning his widow and children. "I know what it is to lose a father," he said. His father, John Singer, was shot to death by officers in 1979. An FBI investigation concluded he was resisting arrest.
The confrontation in January seemed almost inevitable, he said. "They constantly kept pushing it and pushing it," he said of tensions with neighbors.
They were "constantly haranguing us," he said. Singer said it was "pretty sad" that the family wasn't allowed to live as it wished in America.
Now, he'll go to prison for "killing this guy (House) I never intended to kill."
At this point, Jenkins said the House death is not part of the federal case. "All of us mourn" the waste, he said. Any murder charges must be handled in state court. (State officials say they may file murder charges in a few days.)
Jenkins noted that scriptures offer counsel about getting along with others. "If people would just leave other people alone," he said.
"That's all we ever asked for," Singer replied.
But Jenkins said the Singer-Swapp defendants went beyond that. "You stepped out," damaging the property of others, endangering the lives of others.
Ward said the attempted murder charge is the most serious crime among those for which defendants were convicted. "I feel I must plead for the FBI agents I came to know, who were standing there in that hallway of the Bates house as those shots crackled through the wall," he said.