The federal convictions of three polygamous clan members on church-bombing and attempted murder charges do not prevent the men from being prosecuted on a separate charge of murdering a state officer, a judge ruled Thursday.
Addam Swapp, 27, his brother Jonathan Swapp, 21, and brother-in-law John Timothy Singer, 21, were convicted last May in Utah federal court on charges stemming from the Jan. 16 bombing of an LDS Church chapel and firing at federal agents during a 13-day standoff.The trio's attorneys asked 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy to dismiss second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of a state officer on the grounds of double jeopardy.
But the judge ruled that "what occurred in federal court is not a basis for dismissal."
The ruling clears the way for a trial Murphy said he wants to go to the jury the week before Christmas. Prospective jurors will be given questionnaires Nov. 25, and the judge hopes to have the panel seated by Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.
Defense lawyer John Bucher had argued that "successive prosecutions for the same thing really aren't fair. They're being tried essentially for the same thing. They should not be prosecuted twice."
State Corrections Lt. Fred House, who was shot to death Jan. 28 during a brief exchange of fire that ended the standoff at the clan's remote farm, "was deputized as a federal officer and supervised by the FBI," said defense attorney Earl Spafford.
"I think that makes him a federal officer," and the slaying charge should have been brought up during the federal trial, Spafford said.
But prosecutor Creighton Horton said the federal trial "was set up to delete any reference" to the House killing, adding the state case involves a separate offense.
The judge agreed. But he took under advisement a motion to suppress Singer's statements to investigators who arrested him and the other suspects immediately following the shootout at Marion, about 40 miles east of Salt Lake City.
Attorney Fred Metos told the judge that Singer was unsophisticated in the law and did not understand his rights.
Authorities, Metos claimed, used "subtle psychological manipulation" to get him to talk. And "they never told him what he would be charged with and he was not told Fred House had been killed."
But Horton countered that Singer "knowingly and voluntarily indicated he would tell (officers) what happened."
The judge also delayed ruling on a request allowing defense attorneys to call psychologists to testify about the impact of techniques used by federal agents to try to roust the holed-up clan members.
Authorities used blinding floodlights and shrill noises, amplified through speakers set up around the farm, during the siege.
Spafford contended such witnesses would show the government committed acts "reasonably calculated to be provocative."
Prosecutors argued against the motion, saying they did not want defendants to be allowed to call expert witnesses unless they intended to raise a diminished capacity defense.