Defense and prosecuting attorneys in the murder trial for three members of the Singer-Swapp family are reviewing questionnaires filled out Friday by nearly 200 Summit County residents.On Tuesday, attorneys will begin questioning the potential jurors individually to determine who is best qualified to judge whether John Timothy Singer, Addam Swapp and Jonathan Swapp are guilty of second-degree murder in the Jan. 28 shooting death of state Corrections Lt. Fred House.
A look inside the 25-page, 276-question survey - which was created by attorneys from both sides - is a lesson in the jury selection process, the sole purpose of which is to empanel a fair and impartial jury.
The questions probe the potential jurors' private lives, health, beliefs and experiences. Some questions seem ultra-personal; others seem incriminating.
But 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy instructed the potential jurors on Friday to answer the questions honestly and assured them that the questionnaires would be used only by himself and the attorneys and would then be destroyed or kept under lock and key.
Though many of the questions in the Singer-Swapp questionnaire are asked routinely in most criminal trials, a large number apply specifically to this case. For example:
-Have you ever contributed to the building fund for the Marion stake center?
It was the explosion at the Marion LDS church on Jan. 16 that began the standoff at the Singer property a mile away. House was killed by gunfire at the conclusion of the standoff.
-Are you involved at all with home schooling?
-Do you sympathize with those who are involved in home schooling?
These two questions were included apparently because of John Singer's belief in educating his children at home in defiance of a court order. Singer was killed in 1979 as lawmen tried to arrest him near his home. According to Addam Swapp, who married two of Singer's daughters years later, the bombing of the chapel was the first step in a process that would bring about the downfall of the LDS Church and the state government, and the resurrection of John Singer, John Timothy Singer's father.
-Do you practice polygamy?
Like John Singer was, Addam Swapp is a religious fundamentalist.
Because polygamy is illegal, this question may seem to violate a person's constitutionally guaranteed protection against self-incrimination, but Murphy told the press Friday that the respondents' answers cannot be used against them in a court of law or a criminal investigation.
-Is anyone related to you confined to a wheelchair as a result of a physical disability?
John Timothy Singer, who prosecutors say fired the fatal shot, is confined to a wheelchair.
-Do you base important decisions in your life or the life of your family on religious revelation?
Swapp says he received revelation to bomb the church and that a confrontation with law enforcement would bring about John Singer's resurrection.
-Do you know what crimes the defendants were charged with in their federal trial? Do you know what the outcome was?
This line of questioning is important because all three defendants were found guilty of various federal charges. Prior convictions of a defendant can have a prejudicial effect on juries.
-Have you ever expressed an opinion to anyone about how the incident in Marion was handled by law enforcement authorities?
Jonathan Swapp's attorney, Earl Spafford, would like to show that law enforcement's actions contributed to the standoff's violent ending.
In this trial, it appears that the attorneys are more concerned about the jury than are the defendants. Though the case had widespread publicity in the county, none of the defendants wanted a change of venue. In fact, Addam Swapp wanted to be tried by his neighbors, a motion Murphy rejected.
If all goes as planned, the judge said, a jury should be chosen by Wednesday.
Opening arguments in the final chapter of the Marion church bombing and standoff will likely begin Thursday.