Prosecutors wrapped up their case Wednesday against three men accused of murdering state Corrections Lt. Fred House.
Following the defense presentations, expected to take the rest of the week, the case will likely go to the jury Monday.On Wednesday, 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy denied defense motions to reduce or dismiss the second-degree murder charges against Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer.
The jury, however, will be allowed to consider the lesser included charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide when considering the evidence against Singer and Jonathan Swapp. Jurors can also find Jonathan Swapp guilty of aggravated assault.
At this point, however, the jury must find Addam Swapp guilty or not guilty of murder.
The state's last witness Wednesday was Salt Lake Tribune reporter Rodd Wagner, who interviewed Addam Swapp on Feb. 16. In that interview, Addam Swapp pointed out that House's death was forewarned in a letter Addam Swapp sent to Gov. Norm Bangerter the day before the fatal shoot-out that ended a 13-day siege at the Singer property in Marion, Summit County. The siege began with the Jan. 16 bombing of the nearby LDS chapel.
During testimony Tuesday, federal agent Larry Meadows said he searched the Singer property after the Jan. 28 shoot-out and found nine rifles, four shotguns and five handguns inside the Singer home. All but two were loaded.
Meadows - of the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - said he also found 8,304 rounds of ammunition.
Outside, in the snow to the north of the home, the agent recovered a loaded M-1 rifle and a loaded .357-caliber revolver.
Prosecutors say two of the rifles seized inside were fired by Singer and Jonathan Swapp. The rifle found in the snow was believed to have been carried by Addam Swapp, who was shot in the arm and chest during the shoot-out in which House was killed.
Singer is charged with shooting House. The Swapp brothers are accused of creating the dangerous situation that led to the officer's death.
FBI ballistics expert Rick Crum, in a lengthy testimony strewn with ballistics minutiae, told the court Tuesday how he traced bullets found in property west of the Singer residence to guns believed fired by Singer and by Jonathan Swapp.
Two bullets believed fired from a .30-caliber carbine held by Jonathan Swapp went through the front door of another house on the Singer property, referred to as the Bates house. It exited a west window of the Bates house and lodged in the garage of another building on the property, the Jepsen home to the west. A third shot believed fired by Jonathan Swapp from the north of the Singer residence struck the Bates home to the left of the front door.
It was in that doorway that House was hit by one of seven bullets believed fired by Singer. Five bullets matching Singer's rifle were found inside the Bates home. A sixth was found inside the jacket of an FBI agent who was positioned in the Jepsen kitchen, and a seventh apparently ricocheted off the south side of the Bates home and lodged in the door of a car parked in the Jepsen driveway, according to Crum's testimony.
"We have some damn good shooting, frankly," said assistant attorney general Creighton Horton, responding to a motion Tuesday by Singer's attorney to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter or negligent homicide.
Singer attorney Fred Metos asked 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy to lessen the charge because "the pattern (of shots) doesn't demonstrate an intentional homicide."
Metos also argued that Singer was aiming and firing at police dogs. "He was protecting his brother-in-law and close friend from the attacks of vicious dogs."
On Tuesday, Murphy granted a motion by Jonathan Swapp's attorney to allow the jury to hear the same sounds that law enforcement bombarded upon the Singer residence during the 13-day standoff that followed the Jan. 16 bombing of the LDS chapel in Marion.
The same speakers, amplifier and oscillator used during the siege in an attempt to force the family's surrender will be set up outside the Coalville courthouse. Jurors will be allowed to remain inside or open the outside door to experience the sounds, the judge ruled.
Although not convinced of the propriety of his ruling, Murphy said he wanted to give the defense every opportunity to respond to the state's theories.