The defense attorney for a man accused of killing two women jumped to his feet Friday morning and asked the judge to declare a mistrial.
During Friday morning proceedings of the capital murder trail of Edward S. Deli, Summit County Deputy Sheriff Tom Coleman was testifying on his participation in arresting Deli on Dec. 22, 1990. When asked to identify Deli, Coleman said, "He's at the table, sitting between the two public defenders."Martin Gravis, who with Stephen Laker is representing Deli, immediately arose. "I'm going to object. I move for a mistrail," said Gravis, arguing that it was "highly prejudicial for the witness to refer to us as public defenders."
Gravis and Laker are public defenders, not in Summit County but from the Weber County Legal Defenders Office. He suggested that because he and Laker are appointed by the court and paid by the state to represent, the statement might prejudice the 3rd District jury.
Judge Frank Noel said he would instruct the jury that the two are not Summit County public defenders and would hear further arguments Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, Randy Zorn said it took him a while to recognize his brother, Rolf Tiede, when the latter drove up on a snowmobile on the bitter cold afternoon of Dec. 22.
In the previous half hour, Tiede had been robbed and shot in the head twice, had gasoline poured on him from head to toe, had helplessly played dead in a pool of his own blood while two gunmen kidnapped his two daughters, had caught himself on fire trying to extinguish his burning cabin and had discovered that his wife and mother-in-law had been killed.
"I did not recognize my own brother," Zorn testified Thursday.
Zorn said he was at the base of the mountain preparing snowmobiles for the two-mile ride up to the Tiede cabin when his 51-year-old half-brother rode up to him.
"The whole side of his face was mangled . . . dripping blood. It looked like his eye was hanging out," said Zorn. "The whole side of his face looked like it was shot off."
But despite the appearance, Zorn said he still knew it was his brother. He and his fiancee put Tiede into their vehicle and raced down Weber Canyon to get medical help.
Zorn said he had a mobile telephone, but the mountainous area near Oakley, Summit County, prevented him from getting a line to dial out. But Zorn testified that the light on the telephone somehow came on shortly after they got into the vehicle, and he was able to phone 911.
He said he asked for an ambulance and medical helicopters to meet them at a gas station and at the cabin, where they suspected that Beth Potts, 76, and Kay Tiede, 49, had been shot. As he relayed details from Tiede to the dispatcher about the shootings, he pulled up behind the vehicle in which his two nieces were being kidnapped.
He relayed the license plate number and the vehicle description and provided the dispatcher with play-by-play details, including the moment the car changed directions and turned onto Highway 89.
But the near-almost miraculous phone call ended as abruptly as it had begun. "Right after I told dispatch everything on the cellular, the phone went dead," he testified.
Tiede, of Humble, Texas, also took the witness stand and testified about the afternoon of Dec. 22. He said he approached the family cabin and saw his 20-year-old daughter, Linae, standing inside the garage. "I could see tears in her eyes and she was shaking her head," he said.
He testified that Deli jumped out of the garage and ordered him inside at gunpoint. He then noticed that co-defendant Von L. Taylor, 26, had a gun to Linae's back and his arm around her neck.
He said Taylor and Deli then robbed him of $105. Rolf Tiede then asked them what they wanted and why they were there. "I was told to shut up and at that point Mr. Taylor told Deli to shoot me."
He testified that Deli raised his gun, pointed it directly at his head and cocked the weapon. "I froze. I put my hand up. I was scared.
"It seemed like an eternity, but I know it was only a moment when Mr. Taylor got impatient." Rolf Tiede said that after approximately five to eight seconds, Taylor took the gun from Linae's back and fired at him.
The gun misfired once and possibly twice and then he was hit in the head. The blow knocked him face down to the ground. Rolf Tiede said the weapon was loaded with birdshot, but the pellets broke his jawbone and went into his nose, his eye and his cheek.
"I was fighting hard to keep my consciousness, telling myself not to pass out," he said. "I remember thinking, `Somehow I need to live through this. Somehow I need to get my daughters.' "
As he lay there in his own blood, he said he heard Deli and Taylor talk about burning the cabin and heard other shots fired in the house. At one point, he said he heard footsteps approach him and the person leaned down and shot him again in the forehead.
Rolf Tiede said he then felt someone pour gasoline from his feet to his head. He later heard the two men drive off with his two daughters on the snowmobiles. He got up, attempted to stomp out some small fires in the cabin. "I forgot I was doused with gas and I went up like a ball of fire," he said.
Deli is charged with two counts of capital murder and seven other felonies. His attorney says he did not pull the trigger and kill the women and therefore is not guilty of murder.
Taylor pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder last week. A jury will decide later this month whether he receives life in prison or the death penalty.