Second-degree murder charges were expected to be filed Wednesday against Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer in connection with the shooting death of a state corrections officer in January.
The state alleges the three killed Lt. Fred House, who was gunned down Jan. 28 during a shootout following a 13-day standoff at the Singer family property in Marion, Summit County.The state murder charges were to be filed in 3rd Circuit Court in Coalville by the Utah attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case.
It was unclear Wednesday morning why capital homicide charges were not filed as it is normally a capital offense when a peace officer is killed.
However, according to evidence presented in recent federal court hearings, the state may have difficulty proving the slaying was intentional.
House was struck by a single rifle bullet while attempting to carry out a plan to capture Addam Swapp the morning of Jan. 28.
The night before the shooting, House and a couple of FBI agents had sneaked into an empty home on the Singer property and waited for Addam Swapp to come out of the Singer home.
When the Swapp brothers exited to feed the goats in the morning, House, a K-9 officer for the state Department of Corrections, opened the door of the home to release his German shepherd. But the dog, failed to attack.
Jonathan Swapp and Singer began firing. According to federal court testimony, a bullet coming from Singer's bedroom struck House in the chest, and at least two bullets fired by Jonathan Swapp entered the home where House and the agents were hiding. Addam Swapp was shot in the arm during the exchange of gunfire.
During the federal sentencing hearing, Singer told the court that he never intended to kill House but was trying to protect the Swapp brothers from the attacking dog.
"I believe that in the morning of the shootout that I was protecting my brother-in-law (Addam) and his brother (Jonathan) also. It was a self-defense action."
Singer expressed remorse for House's death, saying he can empathize with the widow and her children because his father, John Singer, was gunned down by police officers in 1979.
Second-degree murder is a first-degree felony, punishable by five years to life in prison.
If convicted, the Swapp brothers and Singer could face prison time above and beyond what they are facing after their convictions on several federal offenses.
Addam Swapp was sentenced earlier this month to 15 years in federal prison for bombing the Kamas LDS stake center Jan. 16 and shooting at federal agents during a subsequent standoff. Jonathan Swapp and Singer were each sentenced to 10 years for shooting at federal agents.
In addition to the murder charges, Addam Swapp faces five felony state charges related to the bombing of the church and a confrontation in October 1987 with the Summit County sheriff and the sheriff's lieutenant.
Vickie Singer, Swapp's mother-in-law, faces three felony charges in connection with the bombing of the church.