Addam Swapp, convicted nine years ago in federal court of bombing a chapel, is seeking a new trial on the argument that the case should have been handled in state court.
Swapp, 36, a leader of the polygamous clan that held off law enforcement officers for 13 days, cites a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the federal government's role in criminal cases if the link to interstate commerce is weak.Attorney R. Steven Chambers is using the argument to challenge Swapp's conviction. Attorney Mary Corporon is joining the motion on behalf of Swapp's brother-in-law, John Timothy Singer.
Federal prosecutors maintain that the LDS Church is an international organization and, therefore, falls under federal jurisdiction.
The question is, said Corporon, "was the church sufficiently connected to interstate commerce?"
The attorneys hope to have the bombing case tried in state court, where the penalties are less harsh. Swapp is serving 20 years in a federal prison, Singer is serving 10, with no possibility of parole.
Arguments are scheduled for Jan. 6 before U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins.
Defense attorneys are also challenging the evidence used at the 1988 Swapp-Singer bombing trial, which was examined by the FBI laboratory. FBI labs have recently come under fire for sloppiness. Corporon said the question here is whether the laboratory's problems extended back to 1988.
Chambers said the federal court motions will not likely affect state homicide convictions against Swapp and others for the death of Corrections officer Fred House during a siege and shootout following the bombing.
On Jan. 16, 1988, Addam Swapp detonated 87 sticks of dynamite in the Kamas Stake Center in Marion about a mile from his home. Then Swapp, Singer and a dozen family members, including nine children and Swapp's two wives, held more than 100 law officers at bay for 13 days.
The siege ended the morning of Jan. 28 when House and an FBI team hid in a nearby home and attempted to apprehend Swapp and his brother Jonathan as they left their cabin to milk a goat.
House was shot as he attempted to set his dog on the men. Wheelchair-bound John Timothy Singer later claimed he was shooting at the dog.
In federal court, Addam and Jonathan Swapp were convicted of the bombing. The Swapp brothers and John Timothy Singer were convicted of second-degree attempted murder for firing on the officers.