"Absolutely innocent. Not guilty of all charges."
So declared Addam Swapp, the first of three men arraigned Monday on charges they murdered state Corrections Officer Lt. Fred House.Swapp's brother, Jonathan Swapp, and the third defendant, John Timothy Singer, also pleaded not guilty after 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy asked them to respond to charges of second-degree murder, a first-degree felony.
The defendants then informed Murphy they want to be tried within 30 days, a right guaranteed by law. The judge scheduled jury selection to begin Nov. 25. On that day, up to 250 potential jurors will assemble in a local junior or senior high school to fill out a screening questionnaire.
Murphy, who said he has a "move-it-along" style, told the attorneys he wants the case in the jury's hands no later than Dec. 20. "We owe that to the jury . . . given the season."
The judge made it clear that hearings outside the presence of the jury will be limited to expedite the trial and avoid the appearance that "we're trying to keep something from (the jury or public)."
Despite their attorneys' advice to have the trial moved to a different county, Addam Swapp and Singer told the court they wanted the case tried in Summit County. "It is also my desire that the jury be selected from Kamas Valley and the Marion area," said Addam Swapp, who during Monday's proceedings smiled at his polygamous wife Heidi and two of his children who were in the courtroom.
It was in the Kamas Valley, at the Vickie Singer farm in Marion, that House was gunned down Jan. 28 during a shootout that ended a 13-day standoff with law enforcement officers following a bombing of an LDS chapel nearby.
Vickie Singer, her son John Timothy Singer and the Swapp brothers were found guilty last summer of assorted federal bombing and assault charges.
During Monday's arraignment, the court and attorneys also disposed of numerous housekeeping matters. The prosecution requested the right to visit the Singer property to get more measurements for a scale model to be used at trial. The state also wants to know soon if defense lawyers plan to use expert mental health witnesses.
Earl Spafford, Jonathan Swapp's attorney, said he intends to use a psychologist to testify what effects the loudspeakers and floodlights, used by authorities during the siege, had on the defendants.