In the state of Utah a physician has filed a formal request this week to have his case overturned – a case where a state court jury determined that he was responsible for his former wife’s death in a bathtub, around midnight on September 26, 2011.
Doctor John Brickman Wall, a pediatrician, is arguing through his attorneys that his murder conviction was the result of multiple errors during his trial, which ended with a finding of “Guilty” on March 12 of this year. They are requesting a new trial regarding the death of cancer research doctor, Uta von Schwedler, who was found dead in her bathtub.
Investigators treated von Schwedler’s death as a suicide in the beginning, but her family members pushed for a more thorough look into the case. The couple’s eldest son told the news media that he believed his father killed his mother.
At trial, prosecutors successfully argued that the doctor attacked his ex-wife with a knife; forced her to swallow Xanax and then drowned her. A forensic pathologist testified that she determined the scene was a murder staged to look like something else.
“This was an altered scene – a staged scene,” Forensic pathologist Marcella Fierro testified. “Someone wants me – if I’m an investigator going in there and looking at this – to think that this lady cut herself and when cutting didn’t work, she took an overdose of pills and hopped in the tub and drowned herself.”
Doctor Fierro testified that – in her opinion – Wall probably crushed the Xanax tablets, desolved the medication in water and used a syringe to squirt the mixture into her mouth. It was a technique pediatricians often use to administer drugs to children.
Defense attorney Fred Metos countered that such a scenario was unlikely – that the evidence showed she killed herself instead. He said the forensic expert gave inaccurate testimony on how von Schwedler could have been forced to take the anti-anxiety medication. The trial revealed that the doctors were involved in a bitter custody fight over their children at the time.
In interviews after the trial, jurors reported they were convinced Uta was not in a state of mind to commit suicide.
Judge James Blanch has not yet ruled on the motion for a new trial.