Utah doctor charged with murdering ex-wife claims he is indigent
Courts • Pediatrician, who remains in jail, wants a public defender to represent him.
Published: April 26, 2013 04:09PM
Updated: April 29, 2013 01:35PM
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Uta Von Schwedler, 49, was found dead in her Sugar House area home in 1400 block of Harrison Avenue (1365 South), on Sept. 27, 2011. Since then Salt Lake City police have quietly been investigating the suspicious death of the biologist and HIV researcher who worked at the University of Utah. The woman was found drowned in the bathtub at her home, but police are still trying to determine if her death was a homicide or suicide. Courtesy: Nils Abramson

John Brickman Wall — a Salt Lake City pediatrician charged with murder in the 2011 death of his ex-wife — has filed paperwork with the court claiming he cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Wall, 49, is charged in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony counts of murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the alleged slaying of University of Utah researcher Uta von Schwedler at her Sugar House home.

According to a “declaration of indigency” filed on Friday, Wall claims he has a monthly income of $7,000.

But he also claims he has a home mortgage of $380,000, owes $2,000 on a car and is responsible for three dependents — an apparent reference to the three of his four children who are under the age of 18. He claims he has assets of less than $10,000.

A judge will decide whether Wall meets the guidelines for appointment of a public defender.

It can cost several hundred thousand dollars to hire a private attorney in a murder case.

Wall, meanwhile, remains at the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $1.5 million, cash-only bail.

His first court appearance is set for Tuesday.

Von Schwedler, 49, drowned in the bathtub at her Sugar House area home in the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue (1365 South) on Sept. 27, 2011. For more than a year, authorities have struggled to determine whether the woman’s death was murder or suicide.

But expert analysis of the crime scene revealed a violent struggle and Wall’s DNA in the home, which he did not share with his ex-wife, according to charges filed Thursday after Wall was arrested.

The couple’s oldest son, 19-year-old Pelle Wall, has long maintained that he believes his mother was killed by his father.

“The arrest of John Wall for the murder of Uta von Schwedler is a long-awaited moment for those who loved Uta in their quest for justice,” Margaret Olson, an attorney for the teen, said in a statement. “We are confident ... justice will ultimately be served.”

Von Schwedler and John Wall were ensnared in a bitter custody battle following their divorce in 2006. Just before von Schwedler’s death, she had prevailed in court to gain custody of their three youngest children.

shunt@sltrib.com