Lawyer: Utah doctor plans to appeal murder conviction death of cancer researcher ex-wife


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SALT LAKE CITY — A doctor convicted of murder in the death of his ex-wife plans to appeal the verdict, his lawyer said Monday.

Salt Lake City pediatrician John Brickman Wall face 15 years to life in prison after he was found guilty last month in the death of 49-year-old cancer researcher Uta von Schwedler.

"There's no way he's not going to appeal," said defense attorney Fred Metos.

Judge James Blanch agreed Monday to delay until July 8 a sentencing hearing set for later this month. Wall's lawyers asked for more time to prepare to ask a judge to toss the guilty verdict with an argument that the evidence didn't justify the finding.

Prosecutors said during a monthlong trial that Wall entered his ex-wife's home at night and attacked her with a knife in her bedroom. He dosed her with an anti-anxiety drug Xanax and drowned her in her bathtub, where her boyfriend found her body the next day, prosecutors said.

His lawyers countered that the theory was unbelievable, and it was more likely she killed herself. Metos argued that there was no solid evidence that Wall was in her home the night she died.

Von Schwedler's 2011 death was initially treated a suicide, but family and friends pushed for more investigation. The couple's oldest son said publicly that he believed his father killed his mother. Charges were filed more than a year after her death.

Pelle Wall appeared in court Monday to ask Blanch to sentence his father sooner rather than later. His lawyer, Margaret Olson, told the judge that the 21-year-old had taken a semester off college and hoped to attend the sentencing before returned to school. Von Schwedler's other relatives also want to be there and a fast resolution with help the former couple's other children, she said.

"It's been three-and-a-half years of significant turmoil," said Olson. Responding to those concerns, the judge said he wouldn't grant any more sentencing delays.

The case against Wall was largely circumstantial, and forensic experts had very different interpretations of the scene at von Schwedler's home.

Prosecution witnesses said that spilled antihistamine pills on the floor, a house in disarray and bloodstains in her bed showed she was attacked. The defense said the house revealed signs of a troubled woman losing a custody battle and trying to calm herself with medication.

But jurors interviewed after the verdict said they quickly dismissed the suicide theory. A series of people testified that von Schwedler and wasn't depressed and had recently made a discovery at work that could help find new treatments childhood leukemia. Prosecutors said Wall, by contrast, had been in a downward spiral and focused his anger on his ex-wife.

The panel deliberated for about seven hours before finding Wall, 51, guilty last month. After the verdict, Pelle Wall was joined by some two dozen supporters when he said he felt that justice had been done.

John Wall's parents and siblings, though, said the verdict would condemn an innocent man.

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