Addam Swapp, Jonathan Swapp, and John Timothy Singer "stood together in armed resistence" during the days that led to the shooting death of state Corrections Lt. Fred House.
That's why all three of them share guilt in House's murder, lead prosecutor Creighton Horton told a 3rd District Court jury Friday morning during opening arguments in the trial for the three, who are charged with second-degree murder."The evidence will show that, while the fatal shot was fired by John Timothy Singer, he didn't act alone," said Horton, an assistant Utah attorney general.
But attorneys for the Swapp brothers told the five-man, five-woman jury that their clients never intended to kill anyone and that the events that led to House's death were aggravated by law enforcement authorities and by the shooting of John Singer nine years earlier. John Timothy Singer's attorney was to testify later Friday.
House, a law enforcement dog handler, was killed the morning of Jan. 28 in an attempt to arrest the Swapp brothers on the 13th day of a siege that began with the bombing of an LDS stake center in Marion, about a mile from the Singer property.
Horton recounted for the jury what happened during the short time period - about 20 seconds - in which House was killed.
After failing to capture the Swapp brothers during the night, agents initiated a plan whereby the brothers would be captured when they came to milk the goats. House's dog, Michael, was one of two dogs that was to attack and subdue Addam and Jonathan.
House opened the door to let his dog out, but the dog hesitated. When House stepped into the doorway to coax the animal, he was hit in the right side by one of several bullets fired from the Singer house west of the Bates house, where law enforcement officers were hiding.
The fatal shot nicked House's bullet-proof vest in the right side and then exited his lower left back, lodging against the vest.
An FBI agent with House "saw the look in House's face, saw him lean against the wall and slide down," Horton said. "He saw all the color leave his face. But he couldn't help him because shots were being fired."
As soon as possible, agents pulled House to a safe part of the Bates home and began first aid. "But Fred was gone. He never regained consciousness."
House was dead on arrival at University Hospital. The bullet had struck his aorta, causing him to bleed to death internally, Horton said.
Seven shots were fired into the Bates home from the bedroom of John Timothy Singer, and three shots were fired into the home by Jonathan Swapp, Horton said.
Addam Swapp shouldered his rifle but was shot at twice by FBI agents. One of the bullets pierced his left arm and then lodged in Swapp's chest. The other bullet missed.
The Swapp brothers retreated into the home but later surrendered. Addam's life was saved by first aid administered by FBI agents, Horton told the jury.
The prosecutor also told the jurors _ two of whom are alternates - about the standoff, the shots fired by the defendants and the refusal of Addam Swapp to negotiate or surrender.
It was Addam Swapp's insistence on an armed confrontation that led to the bloody shoot out on Jan. 28, Horton said.
"Although Addam Swapp never fired his weapon (that day), he cannot walk away from responsibility for Officer House's death on that day," Horton said.
The Swapps' attorneys admonished the jury to be open-minded and to look for inconsistencies in the state's case. They also promised to show "another side of the coin," a sequence of events that began in 1979 with the death of John Singer, John Timothy Singer's father. Addam Swapp married two of Singer's daughters years after the death. The defendants say the Singer family was continually harassed by neighbors.
One of Addam's two attorneys, Bill Morrison, said Addam believed he was likely to meet death if he surrendered.
"Addam's going to testify. He's going to explain his actions. You'll see that he never intended to harm anyone."
John Bucher, Addam's other attorney, told the jury that his client bombed the church as a "symbolic gesture. It was a matter of speech. I won't tell you what he was trying to say. I'll let Addam speak for himself."
Jonathan Swapp's attorney, Earl Spafford, said Jonathan never fired intentionally at anyone and that he fired the three shots on Jan. 28 "impulsively" and "as a distraction."
Prior to the opening statements, Judge Michael R. Murphy told the court, outside the presence of the jury, that one of his duties is to monitor the news reports of the trial to ensure "the public is getting accurate information."