Defense attorneys for three men accused of murdering state Corrections Lt. Fred House planned to ask a 3rd District judge on Tuesday to reduce or dismiss the charges.
Just before prosecutors were to wrap up a second-degree murder case against Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer, the defendants' attorneys argued Tuesday morning that the state has failed to show the elements of murder.Singer's attorney, Fred Metos, asked Judge Michael R. Murphy to reduce the charges to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, or negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.
"I will argue that the state has failed to prove second-degree murder," Metos said in an interview prior to Tuesday's proceedings. "At best, they've only proved manslaughter. Of course, I'm going to argue that they've only shown that Timmy ought to have known there were officers inside the (Bates) house and, consequently, it is a negligent homicide."
The 22-year-old, wheelchair-bound Singer is accused of firing at least seven shots toward lawmen, who were hiding in the Bates residence west of the Singer home the morning of Jan. 28. When House stepped into the Bates doorway to give commands to an attack dog, he was hit by a bullet and died almost instantly.
Singer, however, has always maintained that he was shooting at the dogs. The animals were supposed to subdue the Swapp brothers, who were walking outside the Singer home. The state has shown little evidence to prove otherwise, Metos said.
The Swapp brothers are accused of being "parties" to the murder because they created a life-threatening situation during the 13-day standoff that began Jan. 16 with the bombing of the LDS chapel a half-mile from the Singer residence in Marion, Summit County.
But Jonathan's attorney, Earl Spafford, doesn't believe the state has proved his client had anything to do with House's death. Spafford will argue that the charge should be dismissed or reduced to negligent homicide or aggravated assault.
Prosecutors plan to show that Jonathan fired three rounds the morning of Jan. 28, typifying his and Addam's "depraved indifference to human life" throughout the standoff.
Addam's attorney, John Bucher, said that logic doesn't fit his client. "The events during the standoff do not amount to a depraved indifference or a necessary intent or state of mind to make someone culpable of murder," Bucher said.
Bucher will ask Murphy to dismiss the charge against Addam. "Addam will not permit a compromise on that issue because of his belief that there was no intentional killing by him or anyone and he did not want anyone's death."
The attorney will also ask the judge to allow the jury to visit the Singer home. Bucher believes it is essential the jurors see the perspective that FBI agents had of Addam Swapp, who prosecutors say pointed and aimed his rifle at them.