A federal judge has rejected John Timothy Singer's bid to set aside his federal conviction and sentence, saying there was no error or constitutional flaw.
Singer, 31, asserted in an appeal filed last year that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction in the case, that some of the jury instructions were defective and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel.But in a 32-page opinion released Monday, U.S. District Senior Judge Bruce S. Jenkins called the evidence against Singer "un-controverted and overwhelming" and denied the appeal on all counts.
The son of polygamist clan leader John Singer, the younger Singer was convicted on May 9, 1988, for his role in the deadly, 13-day siege at the family's compound in Marion, Summit County.
The stand-off began on Jan. 16, 1988, after Singer's brother-in-law, Addam Swapp, bombed the Kamas LDS Stake Center. Family members claimed the bombing was intended to provoke a violent confrontation that would lead to John Singer's resurrection. The elder Singer was shot to death on Jan. 18, 1979, also following a stand-off with law enforcement officers.
During the 1988 siege, the wheelchair-bound John Timothy Singer fired at least 10 rounds from his .30-caliber rifle at state and federal agents. One of the bullets killed Utah Corrections Lt. Fred House.
Singer last year completed his federal sentence and is now serving a 1-to-15-year state sentence for manslaughter.
Earlier this year, attorneys for both Swapp and Singer asked Jenkins to set aside their federal sentences on grounds the federal government had no right to get involved in the Marion bombing and subsequent standoff. Jenkins denied Swapp's appeal in April, ruling the federal government did have jurisdiction and that Swapp and the others had no right to forcibly resist arrest.
Jenkins applied the same reasoning in the Singer ruling. However, he said he was baffled by Singer's claims regarding federal jurisdiction over the bombing because Singer was never charged for that crime. Singer was charged in federal court with attempted murder, forcibly resisting federal agents and use of a firearm.
According to court records, Singer admitted during a tape-recorded interview with investigators that he fired all 10 rounds from his rifle but insisted he didn't intend to hurt anyone. During the gun fight, he had two holsters attached to his wheelchair: one for the rifle and one for a handgun. Ballistics tests also supported the charge.
"There is no doubt that it was Singer's actual use of a firearm that put the federal agents in harm's way and supported the attempted murder charge," Jenkins said.
The judge said there was an error in the way the the firearm use instruction was presented, involving the definition of the term.
However, he added, "There is simply no basis for concluding that the error seriously affected the fairness, integrity or public reputation of the judicial proceedings.
"Rather, it would be the reversal of Singer's conviction under these circumstances that would have that effect."
Jenkins also said Singer can't show that he was prejudiced by his lawyer's failure to object to the trial court's jury instructions.