Judge allows limited use of DNA evidence in case of doctor accused in ex-wife's death


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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah judge will allow prosecutors to use DNA evidence in the case of a doctor charged in the death of his ex-wife, but only to rule out other suspects.

Judge James Blanch said Tuesday that said tests on the small amount of DNA collected at the scene were inconclusive as to who it might have belonged to, and the results shouldn't be used in a way that points to the defendant, John Brickman Wall, 51.

Lawyers for Wall wanted the evidence to be tossed out, saying there wasn't enough to draw conclusions.

"They're asking a jury to draw a conclusion that is inappropriate given the test results," attorney G. Fred Metos said.

Wall's ex-wife, biologist Uta Von Schwedler, was found drowned in an overflowing bathtub in 2011. In the 49-year-old woman's system was a fatal amount of Xanax, a drug for which she didn't have a prescription.

Wall has pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated burglary charges in the case and is scheduled for trial next month.

Blanch decided Tuesday that he will also allow prosecutors to introduce evidence they say shows Wall filled a large prescription for a strong formulation of the drug about four months before her death, as well as comments Wall allegedly made during a bitter custody battle, including talk about her being hit by a vehicle.

The defense had asked for some of that evidence to be tossed, but Metos said Tuesday the rulings were expected.

Police initially called Von Schwedler's death suspicious, noting evidence of a struggle in her room and cuts on her body.

But it wasn't ruled a homicide or a suicide, and her friends and family worried the investigation had gone cold before Wall's arrest last summer. Their eldest son, Pelle Wall, then 19, fueled speculation by saying he believed his father did it.

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