Jurors continued Tuesday to decide the fate of three Summit County men accused of murdering state Corrections Lt. Fred House.
During closing arguments Monday afternoon, prosecutors asked the four-man, four-woman jury to find that Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer - charged with second-degree murder - acted with "depraved indifference to human life" during the standoff with law enforcement at the Singer property in Marion, Summit County, following the Jan. 16 bombing of that town's LDS stake center.Defense attorneys, who blamed law enforcement for creating the dangerous situation that led to the officer's death, pleaded for their clients' acquittals or for verdicts on lesser charges.
Following the closing statements, which ended about 5:30 p.m., the jury began deliberating but recessed about 8:30 p.m. Jurors reconvened at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to continue considering the testimonies of about 60 witnesses and sorting through hundreds of exhibits, including diagrams, photographs, firearms, and cassette and video recordings.
Monday's proceedings were delayed for several hours in the morning while 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy changed jury instructions regarding Addam Swapp, who earlier had not wanted lesser charges. Addam changed his mind. Now, as an alternative to murder, jurors could find Addam guilty of "threatening with or using a dangerous weapon in a fight or a quarrel."
That same lesser charge, along with manslaughter, negligent homicide and aggravated assault are included with the murder charge against Jonathan Swapp.
Singer, however, must be found guilty or not guilty of murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide.
Though there are three defendants, prosecutors spent nearly half their time talking about the preeminent role that Addam played in the days that led to the fatal shoot-out.
Addam never fired a gun on Jan. 28, but "(He) put his name on each one of the bullets that were fired . . . . He put his finger on the trigger of each of those guns that were fired that day," said Dave Schwendiman, assistant U.S. attorney, in the state's rebuttal.
"Can there be any doubt that he was the leader in all of this? No, there cannot," Schwendiman said.
"Addam Swapp set in motion the events that naturally and foreseeably led to the death of Fred House," said Creighton C. Horton, assistant Utah attorney general. "Addam, more than anyone else, had the power to prevent a tragedy . . . but he insisted on vengeance for the death of John Singer and he insisted on bloodshed . . . for that, he's guilty of second-degree murder."
John Singer - father of John Timothy Singer and of Addam's two wives - was killed by police in January 1979 after allegedly pointing a gun toward them. The Singer family and the Swapp brothers maintain that John Singer was murdered and that the courts wrongly dismissed a wrongful-death suit filed by his widow, Vickie Singer, who is serving a federal sentence for conspiring to bomb the LDS chapel on Jan. 16.
Following that bombing, which was meant by Addam as a symbol of the Singer-Swapp family's grievances, Addam had made it perfectly clear that he had declared war on church, state and nation, and that anyone who came onto the Singer property would be treated as an aggressor, Horton told the jury.
In addition to refusing to surrender or negotiate, Addam, along with Jonathan aggravated the standoff by shooting toward law enforcement officers and at lights and speakers that officers had set up, Horton said.
Singer acted in concert with the Swapp brothers, as evidenced on the morning of Jan. 28 when he fired a volley of shots toward the Bates residence, west of the Singer home, in an apparent effort to kill dogs that authorities had hoped would subdue the Swapp brothers, who were returning from milking a goat. One of those shots struck and killed House almost instantly.
"Tim knew there was law enforcement all over . . . . When he looked down that morning and saw the dogs, he knew there were officers in that house," Horton said.
Jonathan's willingness to use deadly force was illustrated by his firing three shots during the shoot-out, two of which narrowly missed officers, prosecutors said.
"Those three shots are more indicative of (Jonathan's) state of mind than any other evidence we have presented," said Schwendiman.
Horton discounted claims by the Swapp brothers, both of whom took the witness stand last week, that their actions were divinely inspired.
"God didn't place those weapons in their hands . . . he didn't place the guns around the house . . . . He didn't place his finger on the trigger and he didn't fire. These people did."
John Bucher, one of Addam's two attorneys, disputed the allegation that his client was the leader. "It's hard to believe that Addam Swapp stirred them all up into some kind of frenzy and said, `Follow me no matter what I do.' There's no evidence that Addam Swapp ordered anyone to do anything."
Bucher argued that revenge wasn't in Addam Swapp or he would have bombed the church when there were people inside or shot at law enforcement officers who surrounded the property on foot, on snowmobiles and in aircraft.
Attorney and co-counsel Bill Morrison blamed law enforcement for the tragedy. "It was the ill-conceived plan to arrest . . . which caused the death of officer House," Bucher said.
But prosecutors reminded jurors that "the government and the FBI are not on trial" and that none of the tactics would have been necessary if not for the bombing and the defendants' refusal to surrender.
Bucher said his client did not want an officer to die and had no way of anticipating what eventually happened.
Both of Addam's attorneys said Addam's lack of intent to kill is best reflected in his statement upon learning that an officer had been shot: "Oh,Tim, why did you do it? Oh, Tim, who did you have to shoot?"
"Is that the remark of a man who would know that dogs would be released, that Tim would shoot and that an officer would be killed?" Bucher asked.
Jonathan's attorney, Earl Spafford, also blamed law enforcement for worsening the standoff.