The jury and a packed courtroom of spectators were hearing the last of the attorneys' arguments in the Singer-Swapp trial Wednesday, and after instructions from U.S. District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins, jurors were expected to begin debating the guilt or innocence of the four defendants.
The defense dominated the trial Tuesday and Wednesday, with one attorney saying that an armed person not charged in the Singer-Swapp trial was walking around outside in the family's compound during the 13-day siege at Marion, Summit County raising the possibility that somebody else fired at agents in the Jan. 28 shoot-out.In his rebuttal Wednesday, Utah U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward scoffed at a defense position that Addam Swapp is a peaceful, non-violent man with no intention to kill. Holding up a handful of bullets recovered from Swapp's pockets, Ward said a non-violent person wouldn't carry rounds of bullets and walk around with a rifle with the safety off.
Swapp never showed any remorse for what he did, Ward said. In fact, Swapp remains defiant.
"Wouldn't a person who intended no harm regret the harm he had caused?" the prosecutor asked.
Ward said Addam Swapp and Vickie Singer created an armed fortress. In effect, they told officers, "Come and get us. But when you come, you'll be met with force," he said.
Insisting that John Timothy Singer should be found guilty of attempted homicide, Ward said, "Timothy shot first with the intent to kill. There's no wild fire involved. It was intentional, accurate firing."
Ward defended the indictment handed up by the grand jury and urged the jury to find all defendants guilty.
G. Fred Metos, defending John Timothy Singer, said the government based its case against his client on circumstantial evidence and that there isn't enough to convict him. John Timothy Singer told agents he didn't intend to shoot anyone but was shooting at police dogs during the shoot-out that killed Lt. Fred House.
The critical issue, Metos said, wasn't what order the rounds were fired, but what John Timothy Singer had in his mind at the time. "He indicated he was shooting at the dogs - that's the critical issue," he said.
Metos said the 21-year-old man, who is confined to a wheelchair, couldn't steady his gun because the window sill was above his shoulder. He wasn't firing at officers behind the door of the Bates house, where House was killed. "Shots were going wild and high."
Bruce Savage, lawyer for Jonathan Swapp, showed a surveillance photo of this unknown person during his closing arguments Tuesday, part of a campaign to plant seeds of doubt in jurors' minds. Among other highlights of the defense's closing arguments were attempts to point fingers at other family members besides the lawyers' own clients.
At least two persons fired toward houses occupied by officers in the shooting that killed House.
Savage criticized accounts by some agents that seemed to point toward Jonathan Swapp, who was reported kneeling outside with his rifle leveled during the shooting, which took only 17 seconds.
Jonathan and his brother, Addam, were both outside when firing broke out from the Singer house; then Addam Swapp was shot by FBI officers; finally seven more shots were fired, according to the government. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Schwendiman told jurors that the first burst and four of the last seven came from a .30 caliber carbine fired by John Timothy Singer through his west bedroom window.
He said three of the final seven shots came from a sling-equipped .30 caliber carbine that Jonathan Swapp carried.
"He wasn't shooting," Savage said of Jonathan Swapp.
A spent cartridge matching the gun Jonathan Swapp was supposedly carrying at the time was found on the sill of Timothy Singer's north bedroom window, he said. Two other shells, which the government claim were shot by Jonathan Swapp, were found nearby outside.
He said the ejection pattern of the .30 caliber carbine was consistent with somebody firing from the north window, with shells flying outside.
FBI Agent Frank Ortez testified that on the night of Jan. 27 "he saw three armed individuals outside walking," Savage said. The lawyer commented, "We've got another player in the game."
Testimony indicated that the women weren't armed, he said. Of the three adult men present, one Timothy Singer is wheelchair-bound and can't walk.
"Hopefully that is as important to you as it is to us," he told jurors.
If Jonathan Swapp had knelt and fired, as the government claims, he would have had residue on his hands and clothing. "It's not there," he said, referring to chemical tests done at the FBI lab in Washington, D.C.
At another point, he said the north window of the Singer home happens to be in direct line "with what we are talking about here," the angle of shots directed toward a house with agents in it.
During testimony, an expert had said the shots had to come from outside the home, and that chicken wire covered the window, preventing someone from leaning out to shoot.
"No one knows who was behind my client," Savage said.
"That's the trouble with circumstantial evidence. There are big holes in it."
Bill Morrison, attorney for Addam Swapp, said that after John Singer was killed in 1979 and the family was unable to win a wrongful-death suit against the government, they thought "the court system was protecting the murderers of John Singer." An FBI report concluded that Singer was killed because he pulled his loaded guns on officers while resisting arrest.
Swapp was outside many times when agents were around, but didn't shoot anybody, Morrison said. If he wanted to have a violent confrontation, he could have easily have set the time bomb to go off the day after it did, he said.
That would have been a Sunday, when the Kamas LDS Stake Center would have been filled with people.
The family was treated "like we've got a bevy of terrorists in Marion, Utah, for heaven's sake," he said.
Kathryn Collard, representing Vickie Singer, denounced the "sensational labels the press gives them (family members) to sell newspapers." Reporting makes the case seem black and white, but for the jury, "judgment is not so easy."
In 13 days of trial, not a single witness took the stand to say Vickie Singer threatened anyone, touched a gun, committed an act of violence, she said.
Speaking of the government's claim that the jury should find Vickie Singer guilty of aiding and abetting, Collard said, "I believe it is nothing more than a thinly veiled invitation to each of you to turn into a mob and convict Vickie Singer of guilt by association."