Federal judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Orem man who was convicted, then later acquitted, of killing his wife

Ian Maule | Pool Conrad Truman listens as the verdict is read finding him guilty of murder and obstruction of justice in the 2012 death of his wife Heidy Truman at the Fourth District Court in Provo on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. He later received a second trial, and a jury acquitted him of the charges in 2017.

A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit filed in 2017 by an Orem man who was convicted and then acquitted of his wife’s shooting death.

Conrad Mark Truman filed a federal lawsuit alleging that police and prosecutors used “misleading, false and outright fabricated” evidence to charge him with murder and keep him behind bars for nearly four years.

A jury convicted Truman in 2014 of murder and obstruction of justice, despite his testimony that he didn’t shoot 25-year-old Heidy Truman inside their home. He was granted a new trial in 2016, however, after it came to light that jurors relied on incorrect measurements of the Truman home when reaching their decision.

A second jury heard the case in February 2017, and acquitted Truman of the charges.

He then sued Orem police and several officers, along with the Utah County Attorney’s Office and its prosecutor who took his case to trial the first time.

But U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, finding there was not enough evidence presented to show that a reasonable jury could conclude that law enforcement manufactured or withheld evidence in the criminal case.

Stewart also noted that a district court judge heard evidence in the case at a preliminary hearing and ruled that there was "probable cause" — a legal standard where a judge finds that prosecutors have presented sufficient evidence to show a defendant likely committed the crime which they are charged with.

No reasonable jury, Steward ruled, could conclude that Truman's arrest, continued confinement or prosecution were not based on "probable cause."

Stewart had already ruled last year that the prosecutors on the case have “absolute immunity” in civil lawsuits and dismissed them from the case. Thursday’s ruling dismisses the remaining defendants — Orem City, its police department and several of its officers — and the case was closed.

Jefferson Gross, the attorney who represented Orem and its officers, said the lawsuit weighed heavily on the officers and they are happy to have it behind them.

"We’re just very pleased that the court has vindicated the fine police officers of Orem City,” he said. "These allegations were contrived. They did a thorough investigation and did their jobs.”

Truman’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

Truman alleged in the lawsuit that Orem police officers unlawfully detained and interrogated him in the hours after his wife was shot in their home in 2012. His attorneys also claim police made false statements or omissions in order to get search warrants, and arrested him without probable cause.

And once he was charged in Heidy Truman's death, the husband says his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were violated when he was "unreasonably" incarcerated for more than 3 1/2 years in both the Utah County jail and the state prison.

Truman’s attorneys also claim that prosecutors presented a fabricated financial motive for killing his wife prior to trial, and presented incorrect measurements to the first jury.

Stewart, the federal judge, noted in his Thursday’s ruling that a district court judge found the incorrect measurements were due to “ineptitude and carelessness” and were not necessarily motivated by deceit.

Where Heidy Truman was inside their home when she was shot, and how far she could have traveled after she was wounded before collapsing near a stairwell, were contentious points during the first trial.

Truman’s attorneys argued that the incorrect measurements that were gathered by police could have led jurors to discredit Conrad Truman’s testimony in the first trial. He testified that his wife was shot in the hallway — but diagrams of the couple’s home presented to jurors would have shown that Heidy had to travel down a hallway that was two feet longer than it actually was before falling to the ground.

Prosecutors had argued at trial that Conrad Truman’s inconsistent stories to police about what happened that night indicated that he killed the woman. His defense attorneys argued that the man’s statements were taken moments after the shooting while he was traumatized and panicked about his wife’s death. They argued that Heidy Truman shot herself.