A tragic piece of evidence a door marred with four bullet holes was entered into evidence Tuesday in the Singer-Swapp trial.
The polished oak door was from the Bates home where Corrections Lt. Fred House was shot at theSinger compound in Marion on Jan. 28.Robert William Brinkman, Utah State Crime Lab chief, testified Wednesday about the door and several bullets recovered from the scene of the shootout. Four copper-jacketed bullets were taken from the Bates home. Three of the bullets were found in the kitchen, one which "appeared to have some reddish-brown material on it," Brinkman said. The fourth bullet was dug out of a wall beneath a window in the living room.
Brinkman further testified about bullet strikes and broken crockery in the house, as well as strike marks and bullets at the Jepson house and a car in front of it. Federal agents had also been stationed in the Jepson home.
Also Tuesday, FBI agent Stephen R. Wiley testified that he thought agents could shoot if they were in a life-threatening situation and the subject was outside even if the subject did not fire first. That appears contrary to the rules as understood by other FBI officers, who testified earlier they could not fire when Jonathan Swapp pointed a rifle at an agent because Swapp had not fired first.
In testimony Monday afternoon, Utah Public Safety Commissioner John T. Nielsen said two attempts were made to capture Addam and Jonathan Swapp without bloodshed, and both failed when police attack dogs did not perform as they were trained, according to testimony in the Singer-Swapp trial.
FBI agents said Monday afternoon that the two efforts were made on the night of Jan. 27-28. The last attempt ended when gunfire erupted from the Singer farmhouse, killing House. FBI agents wounded Addam Swapp, and the rest of the family soon surrendered.
The original plan was to provoke Swapp out of the home and capture him. Nielsen said the decision was made to put a "tactical operation" into effect after Swapp and Vickie Singer wrote letters to Gov. Norm Bangerter.
Nielsen read the letters to the jurors. Peppered with religious quotations and threats, feelings of persecution and defiance, they offered no hope of compromise. "We are independent and separate from your wicked society," Addam Swapp wrote.
Kathryn Collard, Vickie Singer's lawyer, asked Nielsen if he was aware that a negotiator, Ogden Kraut, had made an arrangement with Swapp in which Kraut was going to try to find some peaceful solution. In his earlier testimony, Kraut said he was to work for a solution on Jan. 29, and Swapp agreed to speak by telephone on Jan. 30. That was before the shootout on Jan. 28.
Nielsen said he knew Kraut had made that plan but said Kraut was more hopeful than FBI psychologists who analyzed the situation. The psychologists had even predicted what the letters from the compound would say.
"Our people were continually exposed to danger," and the officers wanted to conclude the standoff, he said at another point.
So the decision was made to provoke Swapp into leaving the home. A "flash-bang" device of photo flash powder was attached to a loudspeaker in the woods. Law officers and the dogs were waiting in a ditch for this operation.
FBI agent Louis B. Price of Washington, D.C., said that early on the morning of Jan. 28, Addam and Jonathan Swapp, carrying rifles, went to the woods to disable the loudspeakers.
The "flash-bang" went off, startling them and causing them to run 10 to 15 meters.
Two more speakers were set up and shots rang out toward them from the farmhouse.
In the morning, Addam and Jonathan Swapp left the farmhouse to milk the goat, and the fatal shootout happened.