clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Doctor accused of murder asked if he was monster, daughter testifies

John Brickman Wall, center, listens to his defense attorney Jeremy Delicino during the his trial in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
John Brickman Wall, center, listens to his defense attorney Jeremy Delicino during the his trial in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
Al Hartmann

SALT LAKE CITY — Hours after his ex-wife was found dead in her bathtub, Utah doctor John Brickman Wall asked whether he was a monster and if he was responsible for her death, the couple's oldest daughter testified Thursday.

Malkie Wall, now 19, said her father had a mental breakdown when he returned from a police interview.

"He said, 'Yes, I don't think I did it, but maybe I did. Maybe I did do it. Am I a monster? I could be a monster,'" she said.

Uta von Schwedler was found dead in her Salt Lake bathtub in 2011 with knife wounds on her body and a fatal level of Xanax in her system.

Prosecutors allege her 51-year-old ex-husband killed her during a bitter custody battle, but defense attorneys say she could have killed herself. A medical examiner ruled she drowned, but stopped short of ruling whether her death was a homicide or a suicide.

Defense attorney Fred Metos has said aggressive police questioning made John Wall question his own sanity. He was treated at a psychiatric facility shortly after the police interview.

Malkie Wall said her parents fought about how to raise the children and money, and on one occasion her father physically removed her mother from his front yard.

The last time she saw her mother was Sept. 26, 2011, before John Wall picked her up along with her three siblings to go back to his house. Von Schwedler wanted to talk to him about an upcoming trip to California she was planning to take with the two younger children, but he ignored her and drove away.

When she woke up in her father's house the next morning, she went looking for him to find medicine because she'd stepped on a bee at cross-country practice the day before. Her father was nowhere in the house, and she couldn't reach him by text or phone call. Eventually, she walked to the train station and went to school.

Prosecutors say John Wall had the interior of his car shampooed that morning, and he told car wash employee Anthony Izarras to pay special attention to light pink drip stains behind the driver's seat.

Izarras testified that he thought the request was a little odd because the car was otherwise clean.

John Wall arrived late to work that morning, his former medical assistant testified. Katie Grell said his face looked like it had been scratched by a fingernail and his eyeball was bloodied.

He said he'd been sleeping outside with his dog, and was injured when the alarm went off and scared the animal. Grell also saw scratches on his arms, and he rolled down his sleeves when he noticed her looking.

Thursday's testimony came during the final day of the second week of John Wall's murder trial.

Von Schwedler death was initially treated as a suicide, but family and friends, including their oldest son, called for more investigation. John Wall was charged more than a year after her death in a largely circumstantial case.