Vickie Singer, Addam Swapp, John Timothy Singer and Jonathan Swapp hoped to spark a violent confrontation that would destroy the nation, state and the LDS Church, U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward told a jury Tuesday.
In his opening statement in the Singer-Swapp trial, Ward also charged that John Timothy Singer fired the .30-caliber bullet that killed Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House on Jan. 28, the violent end to the 13-day armed standoff that followed the destruction of the Kamas LDS Stake Center.The lawyer for Vickie Singer, in her opening statement, warned jurors that every person charged has to be considered individually, according to that person's own conduct.
The courtroom was hushed as Ward stood before the jurors holding a bright red pole about 8 or 9 feet tall, decorated with feathers, that he said Addam Swapp left beside the stake center when Swapp and 15-year-old Benjamin Singer planted the 80 sticks of dynamite that destroyed the center Jan. 16. He noted the stake center's clock stopped at 2:55 a.m. when an enormous detonation ripped through the building.
The turkey feathers dangling from the pole matched those attached to a fringed buckskin jacket, emblazoned with a blue and white religious flag on the back, worn by Addam Swapp in the courtroom.
Vickie Singer wore an all-white outfit with a white bow in her long hair.
Ward clapped his hands sharply 11 times to represent the sounds of 11 shots fired when House was killed. He described the sound of House groaning as he slid along the wall at the Bates home, part of the Singer compound.
Ward said defendants were motivated also, to some extent, by revenge and a desire for public attention. He read from Vickie Singer's diary entries in the days before the bombing, when events were leading to a climax. He said she hoped the climax would lead to the overthrow of governments.
"The corruption of the American system will be thrown off . . . things will start here, and this is the last stronghold," he read from the diary. "I ask the Lord to come out of his hiding place . . . this sacred ground is a stronghold from which the Kingdom of God will come in these latter days. . . . It is the appointed time."
Ward said that entry was written Jan. 15, shortly before Vickie Singer sent Benjamin down to assist with the bombing of the church. He said Vickie Singer thought the bombing would "destroy the sanctuary of the wicked."
Then quoting a statement apparently by Vickie Singer,
the prosecutor added, "The Lord will fight our battles. There will be death and killing." He said Singer vowed she would never change her mind "in a million millenia."
Investigators found tracks in the snow showing that Addam Swapp, Benjamin Singer and perhaps another person walked to and fro around the church. Ward said defendants wanted to be identified with the bombing and Addam Swapp wanted to be known as the bomber. He even used his own name while purchasing dynamite and left a note about the bombing.
Ward described the attempts of officers to talk the family into surrendering, but statements by Addam Swapp and Vickie Singer "made it clear there would be no surrender," he said.
Ward described the fortification of the Singer family home. He said windows had been boarded and gun ports cut through them. Barbed wire encircled the house, and there were many weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition inside.
At least 80 shots were fired from the compound during the 13-day siege, Ward said. Not a single shot was returned by law enforcement authorities, who were under strict rules of engagement designed to protect Swapp's two wives and the nine children the youngest 10 months old inside.
The rules called for no shots at the Singer home even if shots were fired from it. Also, no tear gas was to be dropped and no attempt was to be made to storm the home.
Ward then detailed for jurors the final violent confrontation that led to House's death and the Singer clan's capture.
He said two unsuccessful attempts were made to lure Addam Swapp outside his home and capture him. On Jan. 28, Swapp and his brother Jonathan left the building to milk their goat. At that point, dog handler House and another dog handler, protected by armed FBI agents, released their dogs in an attempt to overpower the two.
Addam Swapp was hit by one or both of the shots fired by the FBI the only gunfire from authorities during the entire siege. He staggered inside the home and less than a minute later came out to surrender. Meanwhile, others inside were shooting. John Timothy Singer shot six times, killing House and hitting the Bates home and a car, said Ward. Jonathan Swapp fired at least three times with a semi-automatic rifle, he said.
He described bullets crackling through the Bates house, within inches of federal officers inside.
In her opening statement, Kathryn Collard, representing Vickie Singer, said each person being tried is an individual and the jury has an obligation to judge each on the basis of what that person did or did not do. There is no evidence that Vickie Singer was personally involved in the bombing or in any of the confrontations with officers.
She did not use firearms and, in fact, never saw any federal officer until the siege was over. Collard said Vickie Singer admitted freely that she had vowed to resist arrest and did so, but she did not do it forcefully and did not use force against officers, Collard said.