U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward says the verdicts in the Singer-Swapp state trial in Coalville make him grateful that the earlier federal prosecution resulted in lengthy prison sentences. (See related story on B1.)
After their conviction on crimes committed during January's bombing, siege and shootout at Marion, Summit County, all four defendants were given federal prison terms by U.S. District Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins.Addam Swapp was sentenced to 15 years in prison; Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer were ordered to spend 10 years in prison; Vickie Singer was sentenced to five years imprisonment. All were also given five additional years probation.
Government lawyers have appealed, hoping to add five years to the terms of Addam Swapp and Vickie Singer.
The reason is that each was convicted of two firearms counts with mandatory five-year sentences, but Jenkins believed two such terms would be redundant. So he deferred sentencing on one firearms charge each.
Ward said he expects the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will act on the motion early in 1989.
After the federal trial, state prosecutors sought to convict Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer of second-degree murder in the shooting death of state Corrections Lt. Fred House in the Jan. 29 shootout. (Vickie Singer was not tried in state court.)
If they had succeeded, the three could have faced life sentences for murder.
Instead, the jury on Thursday returned guilty verdicts of manslaughter against Addam Swapp and John Timothy Singer, and a guilty verdict of negligent homicide against Jonathan Swapp. The maximum possible sentence on the manslaughter convictions is 15 years, while negligent homicide carries a term of up to one year.
The length of time that convicted members of the Singer-Swapp family will spend behind bars varies greatly. Much depends on whether 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy decides to make their terms consecutive with the federal sentences, and whether he imposes the maximum.
Here is a possible range of the prison terms for each - not counting the possibility they could be released early for good behavior:
-Addam Swapp. If the federal appeal succeeds and five years are added to Jenkins' sentence, and assuming that the state term is consecutive to the federal term, he could be in prison for up to 35 years. Or Murphy could give a consecutive term that is less than the maximum.
If the federal government's appeal fails and he is sentenced to a concurrent term by Murphy, Addam Swapp's minimum time in prison would be 15 years.
-Vickie Singer. If the government's appeal succeeds, 10 years. If not, five.
-John Timothy Singer. Twenty-five years possible maximum, if the state and federal sentences are consecutive. If not, 15 years.
-Jonathan Swapp. Eleven years, providing the sentences are consecutive and he gets the maximum term in Coalville; 10 years is the possible minimum.
Adding to the confusion is the question of the federal sentencing guidelines.
Utah's federal judges ruled national sentencing guidelines were unconstitutional, and Jenkins sentenced the four without reference to them. If the guidelines had been in effect, the sentences might have been longer.
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling on the guidelines. If they are reinstated, Ward has moved that all four should be sentenced again. That could change everything.
Ward told the Deseret News Friday afternoon he was disappointed that the three defendants in Coalville were convicted of lesser charges.
" . . . I thought the result was out of proportion for the seriousness of the offenses. I think it's very fortunate we've been able to obtain substantial prison terms in the federal case, especially in light of what's happened in state court," Ward said.