FBI agents testified in a preliminary hearing Thursday about the critical moments surrounding the gun battle that left a dog handler dying as the 13-day standoff between police and the Singer clan began to unravel.
Bullets from high-powered rifles were flying into the Bates house in the Singer compound in Summit County where an FBI team was hiding when Special Agent Richard Intellini heard his team leader, John Butler Jr., yell "Fred's hit." Utah Corrections Lt. Fred House had been standing in the doorway of the house trying to get his K-9 to obey a command when members of the Singer clan became aware of the officers' presence."House fell backward into the wall and slid down in a sitting position," Intellini said. "I yelled `Fred, are you OK? Are you OK?' He didn't respond, there was just a grunt as the air went out of him."
Intellini said he continued to yell to House as bullets continued to hit the Bates house. "The last sense you lose is hearing," he said. "I didn't want him to die alone."
Butler pushed House's legs away from the front door and closed it so he could drag the officer into the kitchen to administer first aid. A few minutes later Butler left the house and found a wounded Addam Swapp in the snow outside the house.
Addam Swapp, Jonathan, his brother, and John Timothy Singer were charged with second-degree murder in 3rd Circuit Court after they were convicted in federal court on charges related to the January bombing of an LDS stake center near their ranch in Marion, Summit County that prefaced the standoff with police.
Third Circuit Judge Maurice Jones is to decide whether there is probable cause to order the three men to stand trial for the killing of House.
Six FBI special agents who were either in the Bates house with the fatally wounded corrections officer or who were observing the shootout from a house adjacent to the compound recounted the critical moments before and just after House was shot after his dog balked when it was commanded to run from the house and subdue Addam and Jonathan Swapp.
Attorneys representing Addam Swapp asked Jones to dismiss the murder charges against their client, citing a provision in the state judicial code that bars prosecution of a person for related charges already disposed of in another court. The motion to dismiss also says the state violated due process by putting off the filing of murder charges until after federal charges ran their course.
The preliminary hearing was initially scheduled to last three days, but attorneys said they hope the hearing could be finished Friday afternoon.
Testimony Thursday got off to a slow start because of several housekeeping matters brought up by attorneys.
C. Charles Spafford, Jonathan Swapp's attorney, told Jones the courtroom was too small to allow the three defendants and four attorneys to see exhibits as they were presented or sit close enough to each other to confer during the hearing. He asked the judge to find another courtroom.
"We either do it here or reschedule for tomorrow morning in Summit County," Jones said. After a short recess, the attorneys agreed to proceed and helped court personnel carry unused chairs from the jury box so a large map of the Singer compound, entered as evidence, could be situated where all could see it.
The two Swapp brothers and three attorneys sat with their chairs crowded together at the defense table; John Timothy Singer sat in his wheelchair next to the table, flanked by his attorney, G. Fred Metos.
Much of the testimony offered Thursday had been presented during the earlier trial in federal court. Spafford and John R. Bucher, one of Addam Swapp's attorneys, entered standing objections to much of the testimony saying it was irrelevant to the murder charges. Jones denied almost all of the defense's spot objections to the testimony presented by the FBI agents.