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Case against Salt Lake City pediatrician accused in ex-wife's murder proceeds

Published August 12, 2013 9:41 pm

Courts • John Wall will hear evidence against him at October preliminary hearing.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors appear poised to lay out evidence against a Salt Lake City pediatrician in the 2011 killing of his ex-wife in an October preliminary hearing as planned.

John Brickman Wall appeared in 3rd District Court for a routine hearing Monday at which prosecutors said the case was progressing.

Wall, who faces first-degree felony charges of murder and aggravated burglary, is accused of killing his ex-wife, University of Utah scientist Uta von Schwedler, who was found dead in her bathtub. If convicted of either charge, Wall could face up to life in prison.

Monday's hearing was quick and the courtroom was devoid of the usual crowd that has gathered at the doctor's previous appearances.

The doctor's 19-year-old son, Pelle Wall, who in June alleged that his father was violent and could harm him or his siblings if released, wasn't there. Neither were scores of von Schwedler supporters — friends and family who usually pack the courtroom gallery wearing rainbow stickers that say, "Justice for Uta." A lone television camera rolled at the front of the courtroom.

Defense attorney Fred Metos raised some issues with receiving evidence from prosecutors, who said the evidence would be shared well before the preliminary hearing date.

Among the evidence Metos is seeking are emails between advocates for von Schwedler and Salt Lake City police. The emails, which may demonstrate how hard von Schwedler's friends and family pushed for the case to be investigated as a murder — authorities originally struggled to determine whether the woman's death was murder or suicide — will likely come under scrutiny.

Wall, who has been in custody since his April arrest, is being held on $1.5 million cash-only bail. His June request to have that amount reduced was denied.

Wall intends to plead not guilty to all charges, his lawyer said.

Metos has called the case circumstantial and the alleged motive — that Wall acted in response to a fierce custody battle over the couple's four children — nonexistant.

Since the doctor's arrest, the children have been living with family friend Amy Oglesby, who has legally adopted Pelle Wall and last week became the legal guardian of the younger Wall children, 14-year-old Liam Wall and 12-year-old Ilona Wall. Eighteen-year-old Malkie Wall was already living with the family.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae