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No, Feibig explained. Wall had been planning to move back to California, where his family lives. He assumed he was talking about those plans.
Von Schwedler, 49, was found dead in the bathtub of her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011. She was an AIDS researcher at the University of Utah and a mother of four.
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Nils Abramson, who was von Schwedler’s boyfriend at the time of her death, discovered her body.
Photos presented at the court hearing Tuesday showed von Schwedler’s body as it was the day Abramson found her. The tub, he testified Tuesday, was full of ice cold water. The faucet was running. A scrapbook with photos of her youngest daughter floated near her feet. Beneath her body, there was a knife.
"I immediately went and grabbed her arm to pull her out of the tub. But I realized she was very stiff. She wasn’t breathing. That’s not a sign of life," Abramson said. "The photo album was immensely important to her. It’s valuable, needs to be taken care of. She wouldn’t [have brought it into the bathtub.]"
In the months after von Schwedler’s death, police struggled to determine whether she was the victim of suicide or murder.
Abramson, who was called to testify after Fiebig, is a social worker by trade. He testified that von Schwedler did not display any signs of suicide or depression prior to her death. She was not on any medication — aside from something to treat her seasonal asthma — and was never prescribed Xanax, although she was found with a high dose of the drug in her system, according to court documents.
Charges allege Wall had written and filled a prescription for his mother for 30 Xanax tablets in May 2011, although there was no documentation indicating he had been treating his mother medically.
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. Metos has pointed out the DNA found could have also belonged to either of von Schwedler’s sons.
But in photos taken from the home on the night von Schwedler was found dead, several things appeared out of place, Abramson testified. He also noticed blood on her bed cover and in the bathroom, on the sink and on a windowsill.
She was nearly naked, wearing only a pair of green shorts and had cuts on her left wrist, leg and an injury to her throat.
As Abramson spoke on the witness stand, and prosecutors scrolled through photos of the crime scene and von Schwedler’s unmoving body, her 19-year-old, son Pelle Wall, averted his eyes.
Pele Wall, who attended Tuesday’s hearing with a cousin and his adoptive mother, Amy Oglesby, will not testify at the three-day preliminary hearing. But he has been outspoken in his belief that his father is guilty of killing his mom.
Wall became a person of interest almost immediately along with Abramson, police said. But when they brought him in for interviews, his strange behavior made him stand out.
"He didn’t cry ever," a Salt Lake City police detective testified. "He kept giving a very unusual response —’I don’t think I did it.’ "
Nursing assistant Katie Grell was the last witness to testify Tuesday. She worked with Wall for a year and half at his pediatric practice.
She said in the weeks leading up to von Schwedler’s death, she noticed a change in the doctor.
"He was angry, upset," she said. "Sometimes he’d come into work looking like he hadn’t showered or brushed his hair, without changing his clothes, without shaving."
But after von Schwedler’s death, prosecutors asked.
"He looked really good," Grell said. "Kind of like a weight had been lifted."
Prosecutors have pointed to years of custody battles over Pelle Wall and his three siblings as a motive for murder. But defense attorneys said Wall had been prevailing in the custody struggle.Next Page >
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