U.S. Magistrate Ronald N. Boyce ruled Monday that a diary kept by Kathleen Sheets may be used in the government's trial against her husband.
J. Gary Sheets is to be tried on 34 counts of fraud and other charges, with prosecutors saying he bilked investors in Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana of $1.8 million. He is a former investment consultant who knew murderer and forger Mark W. Hofmann.Hofmann used pipe bombs to murder Sheets' wife, Kathleen, and Sheets' former business partner, Steven F. Christensen, in October 1985. He is serving a life sentence. The murders were part of a plot to cover up Hofmann's forging of historical documents concerning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Mrs. Sheets' death has nothing to do with this case, except for how it may effect the defendant's claim of a privilege marital communication," Boyce wrote.
Marital privilege is the right of a husband or wife to refuse to testify against the spouse in a criminal case. Boyce noted that Sheets has remarried and said asserting marital privilege after the death of a spouse in order to assure the continuance of the marital relationship "seems an exaggeration."
He noted that Sheets released the diary to Salt Lake Police Detective James F. Bell. Bell testified no conditions were put on the diary's use and Sheets knew it would be photocopied and disseminated to numerous officers and investigators looking into the Hofmann case.
He said parts of the diary have been printed in a book about the bombings.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Judge David Sam, in the midst of what may be a lengthy jury selection, said that prosecutors and defense attorneys had a few more possible witnesses' names to add to the list that the panel has already seen.
Among those named Tuesday in open court by defense lawyer Peter Stirba was Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, who once helped Hofmann raise money to purchase a supposed collection of eary LDS Church writings.
Sam noted that Pinnock's name is familiar.
"The concern . . . is because of your name recognition of him and and whatever recognition he may hold, whether you may tend to give greater weight to his testimony at the start."
The judge said that it's acceptable for jurors to give greater credence to one witness or another, but it must be as a result of what they have seen and heard in the courtroom, and not because of any outside influences.
He asked how many knew of Pinnock, and many of the 75 potential jurors did. Then Sam asked, "Would you tend to give great weight to his testimony because of knowing him through name recognition?"
None of the potential jurors said they would. Also, none said they know Pinnock socially.