A 3rd District judge denied Friday a defense attorney's motion for a mistrial in the capital murder case of Edward S. Deli.
But Judge Frank Noel stopped short of an official ruling and indicated he would listen to additional arguments for a mistrial if attorney Martin Gravis can find case law supporting his contention.Gravis argued that the jury was prejudiced when a witness on the stand identified Deli as the man "sitting between the two public defenders."
Outside the presence of the jury, Gravis argued that the statement will prevent his client from receiving a fair trial because the jury now knows that he and co-counsel Stephen Laker are appointed by the court and paid by the state to defend Deli.
"It creates inferences that the defendant couldn't hire a better attorney or another attorney wouldn't defend him," he said. Gravis said he is also fearful the jury will believe he is "not as competent as a hired counsel."
"In the minds of several clients, they do not believe that public defenders are real lawyers," said Gravis.
The judge told the jury that Gravis and Laker are not Summit County public defenders and said such facts should not make any difference. The two men are court-appointed public defenders from the Weber County Legal Defender's Association. That, however, was not mentioned to the jury.
"Whatever prejudicial effect it may have had was mitigated" by the explanation, Noel said.
During the third day of testimony Friday, Dr. Sharon Schnittker of the state medical examiner's office said Beth Potts and Kay Tiede where each shot three times. Both were still alive when each of the shots were fired.
She and James Bell, a former medical examiner investigator, both testified that the mother and daughter were shot with two different weapons - a .38-caliber handgun and a .44 magnum.
Deli's defense attorneys say that co-defendant Von L. Taylor - not Deli - was the one who killed the victims and fired the numerous shots at the Tiede family cabin near Oakley, Summit County.
But Linae and Tricia Tiede both testified earlier this week that Deli carried the .44-caliber handgun with him throughout most of the 11/2-hour ordeal during which their mother and grandmother were killed, their father shot and robbed, their cabin burned, and the two young women kidnapped.
Linae Tiede testified she saw Taylor shoot her mother once, but did not see who fired other shots.
Schnittker said that Potts, a 76-year-old blind and handicapped Murray woman, was shot in the right temple, the right breast and the left breast. All three bullets exited her body and at least two went through the ceiling floor board of the cabin, Bell said.
"She was laying down on her back face up" when she was shot, he said.
Kay Tiede, of Humble, Texas, was shot in the back of her left shoulder blade, likely with a .44-caliber weapon, Schnittker testified. Tiede was also shot in her front left arm and a .38-caliber bullet was found inside her clothing near the wound.
Tiede was also shot with birdshot, said Schnittker, who counted about 35 pellet wounds and 65 more pellets on the woman's clothing during an autopsy. Bell said she, too, was likely lying on the floor when the shooter fired at least one of the bullets.
Kamas Police officer James A. Fowers testified that Taylor and Deli ran a roadblock he had set up after police were notified of the shootings and kidnappings. He said he continued to chase after them until Taylor lost control of the stolen car and crashed it near Lemon's Dugway.
"As I was getting out of my car I heard shots fired," he said. He could see Deli standing behind an opened door of the car pointing a handgun toward a deputy sheriff.
The rookie officer, who had been with the two-man police department for three months, said he immediately fired two shots at Deli. One shot hit the rear window of the passenger door and one hit just below the back seat in the door frame.
Linae Tiede was crouched in the back seat of the car and her 16-year-old sister was in the front seat. Fowers said he knew there were hostages in the car but didn't know where in the car. "I was in fear for the deputy's life," he said.
Deli subsequently gave himself up and he and Taylor were arrested.
The prosecution rested its case Friday and the trial will resume Monday morning.
Taylor pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder last week. A jury is expected to decide sometime next week whether he will receive life in prison or the death penalty. Deli is facing trial on the same charges in addition to seven other felonies.