If not for the feelings of one man, Edward S. Deli might be put to death for the Christmastime slayings of two women.
But Deli was assured Tuesday that his life would not be taken when a 3rd District jury convicted him of two reduced counts of second-degree murder.Linae Tiede, who stood next to her mother and grandmother as they were shot and killed, openly cried when the court clerk announced that Deli was guilty only of second-degree murder for the deaths. Other family members also cried and expressed frustration with the verdict.
"I can't understand how reasonable men and women could come to this kind of conclusion," said Barbara Noriega, daughter and sister of the victims. "I feel if Deli doesn't deserve a first-degree murder charge, then nobody does."
Noriega said the family will try to cope with the surprise decision but said she believes Deli deserves to die.
Jurors, too, were frustrated as they left the Coalville court house late Tuesday. They had deliberated for an unusual 121/2 hours before announcing their verdict. Some told reporters, however,
that they wanted to convict Deli of capital murder.
But one juror refused to believe that Deli either shot the victims or knowingly participated with co-defendant Von L. Taylor in the slayings. Despite other jurors' arguments, he would not change his mind, they said.
"Eleven clearly saw that he was guilty" of first-degree murder, jury member Lorena Jackson told the Deseret News after the verdict. But the unidentified male juror "forced" them to convict him of the lesser charges.
"I felt like he was stubborn," she said.
"We're very, very frustrated," added Lisa Eager, who also sat on the jury for a full week. "It's a very tragic and sad case, but we all have to respect everyone's opinion in what they got out of the case."
Over several days, witnesses testified that Deli and Taylor burglarized the Tiede cabin near Oakley, Summit County, on Dec. 21. When Linae Tiede, her mother and her grandmother returned the next afternoon, the two women were
Please see DELI on A2
shot and killed almost immediately.
Linae Tiede said she saw Taylor shoot her mother, but she turned around and did not see who fired the subsequent shots. Each woman was shot three times with two different weapons, a .38 and a .44 caliber gun. Witnesses testified that Deli always carried the .44 caliber gun from that time until they left the cabin one hour later.
But defense attorneys argued that Taylor unloaded his gun on Beth Potts, 76, and Kay Tiede, 49, and then grabbed Deli's gun and unloaded it. They say Deli never fired any shots.
Deli then tied and gagged Linae Tiede and held a knife to her throat. She said she heard Deli ask Taylor if he reloaded his weapon and said Deli then appeared to reload his .44 magnum. Deli told her, "You've seen us. Now we have to either kill you or take you with us," she testified.
When Rolf Tiede and his other daughter, Tricia Tiede, arrived, witnesses said Deli and Taylor robbed him at gunpoint and then Taylor shot him in the head. Rolf Tiede fell face down and lay there pretending to be dead while someone poured gasoline on him and shot him a second time in the head. He survived because those two bullets were loaded with birdshot.
According to testimony, Deli and Taylor then kidnapped the two young women and took Tiede's automobile, planning to drive to New York City. They left behind a burning cabin with gasoline spread throughout.
Deli at one point threatened to kill Linae if Tricia tried to escape and told Linae he "was as good with a knife as he is with a gun." The men were arrested after a chase with police officers.
In addition to the two counts of second-degree murder, the jury also convicted Deli of seven other felonies. Taylor pleaded guilty to two counts of capital homicide three weeks ago, and a jury will decide later this week whether he should receive the death penalty.
Defense attorney Martin Gravis had conceded that Deli was guilty of the other felonies and even admitted to the jury that he was guilty of second-degree murder.
"It was the verdict we asked the jury to return. He realizes he's guilty of the crime," Gravis said. "We're feeling relieved it's over and don't have to go through the penalty phase."
Directions given to the jury instructed them that the defendant could be found guilty of capital murder, even if he only aided the man who did the actual shooting. But jurors said the one who stood alone did not believe the prosecution had proved Deli was involved in the plan to kill the women.
"He felt there wasn't enough evidence that this person knew he (Deli) knew what was going to happen," said Eager, who indicated other jurors tried and tried to persuade him. "We all did what we could."
"It wasn't a matter of giving in. It was a matter of we all couldn't agree to murder in the first degree," she said. When they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on that charge, they went down a degree to get all to agree.
"We're very frustrated (with the one juror) because we have to sleep with the decision we made," jury forewoman Tamara Martinez said.
Although the verdict cannot be changed, family members of the victims have vowed to fight the system that allows one person to affect a case that those involved with it have called a "clear-cut example of guilt."
"I think we ought to set a precedent and challenge this," said Claudia Goates, Noriega's sister. "This is not justice. This is not even close to justice."
Crime and punishment
Edward S. Deli's crimes went beyond the murder charge that garnered most of the attention during the past week. They are:
Second-degree murder (two counts) 5 years to life
Attempted first-degree murder 5 years to life
Aggravated kidnapping (two counts) 5 years to life
Aggravated robbery 5 years to life
Aggravated arson 5 years to life
Theft 1 to 15 years
Aggravated assault 0 to 5 years
Prosecutors will ask that the sentences be served consecutively, one after the other. But judges often impose sentences concurrently.