Three members of a polygamist clan were convicted today on charges ranging from manslaughter to negligent homicide in the death of a law officer in a gunfight at the clan’s compound.
The jury found the clan leader, Addam Swapp, 27 years old, guilty of manslaughter, and his brother, Jonathan Swapp, 21, guilty of negligent homicide. Their brother-in-law, John Timothy Singer, 22, who actually fired the shot, was convicted of manslaughter.
All three had been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying on Jan. 28 of Lieut. Fred House of the Utah Corrections Department, who was trying to arrest the Swapp brothers in connection with the bombing of a nearby Mormon temple.
The ensuing shootout ended a 13-day police siege of the clan’s farm in rural northern Utah. Judge Amends Instructions
Jurors deliberated 25 1/2 hours before returning the verdicts in Third Circuit Court here. The jury got a late start today when Judge Michael Murphy amended his instructions to allow jurors to consider lesser charges against Addam Swapp.
In addition to the second-degree murder charges, jurors were instructed that they could consider convicting Jonathan Swapp and Mr. Singer on lesser charges, including manslaughter and negligent homicide.
The jury began deliberating Monday night after nine days of testimony from 51 prosecution and seven defense witnesses, including Addam and Jonathan Swapp.
The prosecutor, Creighton Horton, told jurors that the defendants had deliberately embraced a course of confrontation that led to Lieutenat House’s death. The defense countered that the clan members, while well-armed, never intended to hurt anyone and feared that the police were looking for an excuse to kill them.
The compound was surrounded by an army of 100 law-enforcement officers on Jan. 16, hours after Addam Swapp, claiming divine inspiration, bombed a nearby Mormon chapel.
Prosecutors had maintained that Addam Swapp ”basically declared war on the church, state and nation” when he bombed the chapel. Convicted in Earlier Trial
The trial concluded the second of two prosecutions against clan members. In May, the three men and Vickie Singer, the mother of Mr. Singer and Addam Swapp’s two wives, were convicted of Federal violations in the siege.
In those crimes, Addam Swapp was sentenced to 15 years, John Timothy Singer and Jonathan Swapp to 10 years and Vickie Singer to five years.
Addam Swapp testified in the latest trial that his family’s battle with society began in 1979 when Mr. Singer’s father, John Singer, was gunned down by the police, who were trying to arrest him at the same farm where the shootout occurred.
The police contend that Mr. Singer, who led the clan and who had clashed with the authorities over his refusal to send his children to public schools, was shot to death when he pulled a gun on officers sent to arrest him. Mr. Singer’s family maintained he was shot in the back, but a Federal judge dismissed a $110 million wrongful-death suit filed by Mrs. Singer.
The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is five years to life in prison. For manslaughter, the maximum term is five years, and for negligent homicide one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.