When justice moves swiftly, there's no time for defendants to dream up cock-eyed, attention-grabbing schemes, says prosecutor Dave Schwendiman.
Speedy justice is important in any case - criminal or civil. But in the Singer/ Swapp case, it was absolutely imperative, said Schwendiman.Addam Swapp had built a speaking platform "out of the bones of those he hurt," the prosecutor said. Whenever Addam spoke, the media listened. He phoned reporters from his jail cell, he shouted to cameras outside the courtroom and he used the witness stand as a podium to preach his anarchist views, he said.
"Media coverage tends to create folk heroes of those who live outside the social order, such as mountain man Claude Dallas and Addam Swapp. It's important that these people be taken from the limelight."
Addam Swapp, his brother, Jonathan Swapp, and his brother-in-law, Timothy Singer, were sentenced Thursday in connection with the Jan. 28, 1988, shooting death of Corrections Lt. Fred House. The officer was gunned down at the conclusion of a 13-day standoff with lawmen at the Singer/Swapp farm in Marion, Summit County.
With the state sentences of one to 15 years for the Swapp brothers and a year in jail for Singer added consecutively to federal sentences, these "violent protesters will spend a long time out of the sight and mind of the public," said Schwen-diman.
To have complex federal and state trials with thousands of pieces of evidence completed within a year of the siege is unusual and commendable, said John T. Nielsen, former commissioner of public safety.
"The justice system worked exactly as it was intended to work. The trials were handled by the prosecutors and judges incredibly efficiently," he said. Spectacular crimes need to be prosecuted as rapidly as possible while the impact is still fresh in the minds of the public, he said. "It's more meaningful to everyone if justice is perceived to be swift and sure. This case has enhanced the credibility of the entire system.
"Had the trials been postponed many times, Addam would have felt justified in his predictions. He had predicted that the system would fail.
"During the Coalville trial, he told family members he expected to be home on the ranch any second. He expected to be delivered from the hands of the authorities. But the system he protested has proved him wrong," said Nielsen.
Schwendiman and Creighton Horton prosecuted both the federal and state trials.
Federal Judge Bruce Jenkins and 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy denied any continuance motions and moved the trials along as speedily as possible.
"They were tough taskmasters," said Schwendiman. "We were really cracking." He praised both judges.
The case was personal to Schwendiman. House was his respected friend.
During the state trial, Schwendiman talked often with Ann House, Fred's widow. He reminded her that House's worth would not be defined by the trial.
"The completion of case will enable our community to begin to heal," said Schwendiman. "But it's never going to heal the hurt of losing a good man."