Two weapons linked to a 1991 shooting are no longer available as evidence, but that won't stop accused murderer Edgar Tiedemann's case from going to trial next month.
Dressed in blue Salt Lake County Jail-issued clothes, a gray-bearded Tiedemann, now in his 60s, rolled his wheelchair into 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton's courtroom Friday.
His attorney Heidi Anne Buchi tried to convince Atherton that the .22- and .38-caliber handguns, along with other evidence that was destroyed, would help place doubt into a jury's deliberation over her client's case. Atherton, however, decided to move forward with a Feb. 25 trial date and what has become for Tiedemann a long journey through the legal system.
Tiedemann is accused of shooting three people 17 years ago in his West Valley trailer. Susie Sessions and her sister's boyfriend, Chuck Timberman, were killed that day. Session's 14-year-old son, Scotty Sessions, survived the shooting but was paralyzed he died ten years later, reportedly due to the injuries he received during the shooting.
A fourth person inside the trailer, Debrah Southerland, played dead next to her boyfriend, Timberman, until Tiedemann allegedly raped the then-pregnant Southerland upon discovering she was alive.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Colby told Atherton that he expects to call Southerland to the witness stand, along with several police officers who are expected to help fill in any possible gaps created by missing evidence.
Buchi said being able to use better technology today to test such evidence as blood from the scene, gunshot residue and bullet fragments would give her "something to argue with" on behalf of Tiedemann, who sat quietly throughout Friday's proceedings. "We don't have that to even look at," at,' she told Atherton.
Buchi has asked that a full week be set aside for the trial because of issues with Tiedemann's ability to process and respond to information he is hearing. He is expected to testify, along with Southerland, police officers who were at the scene in 1991 and medical examiners. Jury selection will move forward Feb. 22as potential jurors are chosen from a pool of at least 60 people .
At one point, Tiedemann was housed at the Utah State Hospital, but in 2002 a funding issue caused him to be released, prompting the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office to refile three counts of first-degree murder. He is now locked up at the Salt Lake County Jail.The Utah Supreme Court ruled last June that Tiedemann did not appear to waive his Miranda rights when he confessed to police. During questioning Tiedemann told authorities he was enraged by Susie Sessions' rebuffing of his romantic advances. But he also said that during questioning he was high on paint thinner and had mental problems, leaving him unable to understand what he was being asked. He was eventually found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
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