JURORS SAW VICKIE SINGER AS THE INSTIGATOR OF EVENTS
AND SOME MEMBERS OF THE JURY THOUGHT THE FBI FORCED THE SHOOTOUT BY USING DOGS IN A SURPRISE ATTACKVickie Singer was convicted because jurors believed the Singer-Swapp defendants would not have gone on their crime spree without her instigation, says a member of the jury.
Also, some jurors thought the FBI forced the shootout by using police dogs in a surprise attack, startling John Timothy Singer and Jonathan Swapp into firing. They thought that kind of confrontation might have been avoided.The Jan. 28 shootout took the life of Corrections officer Fred House, one of two dog handlers on the scene.
Among the jury's most difficult decisions was to determine Vickie Singer's guilt or innocence, said Fred Lacy, Salt Lake City, a member of the jury.
Little or no testimony was presented of her physical involvement in criminal acts. When the verdict was announced Monday afternoon, she was convicted as an accomplice - which under the law carries the same penalty as a principal actor.
All defendants were found guilty on all charges, except that Vickie Singer was cleared on three of eight counts.
"We didn't see where he (Addam Swapp) would have had all this fury in him, pent-up resentment," said Lacy. "It had to be put there."
In an interview Tuesday, Lacy said most jurors had the impression Vickie Singer "was the instigator of the whole thing and Addam carried it out. Unfortunately, they never really said that at the trial."
Still, they couldn't figure out how the armed standoff and shooting at Marion, Summit County, would have happened without her instigation.
"We don't think it would have ever happened without her in some fashion getting him riled up about it," Lacy said. After all, Swapp never met John Singer, whose death nine years ago was cited by both Vickie Singer and Addam Swapp as the cause of the January standoff.
Asked why the jury found the Swapps and John Timothy Singer guilty of attempted second-degree murder instead of attempted first-degree murder, he said that wasn't the real debate.
"The controversy was second-degree or acquittal" on those charges, he said. "There was very little discussion on first."
Three or four jurors wanted acquittal for each defendant on the attempted murder charge. "But it wasn't necessarily the same three or four for each person." All other jurors were in favor of conviction on those counts.
"There were some of us in there that were of the impression that the FBI really blew it - that the confrontation, in the way it happened, should not have happened.
"And that the only reason there was shooting was that they really surprised them. We didn't really think they had any intention to shoot anybody at all because they had so many opportunities to do so," and did not.
"But in the end we decided that simply because they did shoot at the FBI agents, whether or not they intended to hit them or not, really became irrelevant."
In the shootout, he said, two of the three armed men actually fired at officers - John Timothy Singer and Jonathan Swapp. The third, Addam Swapp, was an accomplice, although he did not fire at the time, he said.
What about the possibility broached by Jonathan Swapp's lawyer, Bruce Savage, that there might have been another person firing at the time? "We didn't buy it," Lacy said.
Although reporters waited anxiously as the hours ticked by Friday night, believing a decision was coming any second, Lacy said they were nowhere near a verdict then.
"We were just in a royal battle. We were not close at all," he said.
There were so many charges - 23 altogether - that it seemed the jury would never be able to come to a decision, he said. "However, there were some that gave us more trouble than others. There was a lot of disagreement for the jury.
"The interstate commerce thing really caused quite a stir. There were quite a few people who really did not believe the church was in interstate commerce."
That part of the case concerned the bombing of the LDS Kamas Stake Center on Jan. 16, the violence that triggered the standoff. In order for the federal government to file charges, the building blown up had to somehow affect interstate commerce.
Any structure that had no effect on commerce that crossed state lines would be covered by state laws, and a federal charge would not be appropriate. So prosecutors put on testimony that showed donations collected in the stake center were used in interstate commerce - supporting missionaries, buying equipment from out of state, etc.
When U.S. District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins instructed the jury, he said they would have to vote "yes" on one of three possible conclusions about interstate commerce if the bombing charges were to be considered.
One of these was whether donations collected at the stake center were sent through interstate commerce, and the jurors voted yes.
When Addam Swapp testified, his statements didn't implicate anyone else. He "pretty much referred to the bombing part of it, and that was pretty much cut and dried, as far as most of us were concerned," Lacy said.
The fact that Addam Swapp and his brother, Jonathan, wore fringed leather jackets did not work against them. "Well, the only thing I could think of was I'd like to have one," Lacy said.
"I wouldn't wear it to court - but I'd like to have one." He never saw the back of Addam Swapp's jacket, which carried a religious flag, until after the verdict, when the defendants were leaving the courtroom.
At all breaks during the trial, the jury filed out first, with defendants still facing them. So he didn't see the back of Swapp's jacket.
Lacy said most members of the panel didn't feel that the Singer-Swapp defendants really meant an insurrection when they talked about establishing their own nation. "There were one or two jurors that kind of got that feeling," he said.
"But I thought most of us felt, rightly or wrongly, they were actually talking about a religious-type freedom, rather than a physical piece of turf where they had their nation."
How did it affect jurors when Jenkins ordered Addam Swapp to answer certain questions and he flatly refused to talk about other defendants? Did it lessen Swapp's credibility? "I think it had the opposite effect. For some reason, defying the judge - I don't know, I was half sympathetic to him on it." But this factor never came up in jury deliberations, he said.
"The only real tough part was the decision-making with the jury," he said of the trial. "That really turned out to be a lot tougher than any of us expected it to be. I think the only disappointing part of the whole trial was that we really felt like the defense let us down. They just did not present much of a defense. It really put us in a bad way because the jury was trying to come up with a defense more than the defense attorneys were."
He did not know whether this was because there wasn't much of a defense that could be presented or because defendants were afraid of biasing the case against their relatives who were also on trial.
Was it a mistake to try everybody together? "It was a mistake if it affected the way the defense lawyer handled his own client there," Lacy said. But he said he doesn't know if that was the case.