PROVO, Utah — A Utah judge didn't release a man convicted in his wife's shooting death from prison Tuesday, but he said new evidence in the case could be significant.
Conrad Truman, 33, insists he's innocent and his lawyers want a judge toss out the guilty verdict in his case. They say that Heidy Truman, 25, shot herself, and they point to a new ruling from a medical examiner finding that her death might not have been a homicide. New tests also show that she had had gunshot residue on her hand where it would have been if she was holding the gun, attorney Mark Moffat said.
"He did not kill his wife," Moffat said.
Judge Samuel McVey agreed that those tests could have impressed the jury at his trial last year, though it's unclear whether they would have changed the verdict. McVey said he'll reconsider whether to release Conrad Truman after prosecutors have a chance to fully respond to the new evidence.
Prosecutor Craig Johnson argued that the new tests don't show that Heidy Truman was holding the gun — instead, she could have gotten the residue on her hand trying to protect herself from her husband.
"It could be explained a million ways," Johnson said. He added that it's not necessarily significant that the medical examiner decided that the death might not have been a homicide because that's not an essential part of the case.
Medical examiner Edward Leis said in court documents that he changed his ruling after he re-examined the evidence in the case at the request of the defense, in particular the positioning of Heidy Truman's body. Based on information provided by police, he originally decided that she could not have staggered and fallen where her body was found if she had shot herself. In his revised report, he found that the distances were shorter than originally believed and a self-inflicted gunshot was possible.
Conrad Truman is serving a sentence of up to life in prison after he was convicted of killing her after a drunken argument, possibly to collect nearly $1 million in insurance money.
He has maintained his innocence, saying that he loved his wife and found her fatally wounded after she left to take a shower in October 2012. At his sentencing hearing, he said he'd fight the conviction until he died and couldn't apologize because his wife shot herself.
At trial, his lawyer said that Heidy Truman might have killed herself by accident, after she grabbed her gun while her hands were still wet from a shower because she thought she heard an intruder.
But prosecutors argued that story wasn't likely, and murder was the only explanation for Heidy Truman's death of a point-blank gunshot wound to the head.
Johnson said Conrad Truman threatened to kill police and paramedics the night of his wife's death, showing he had the mindset of a murderer. The many different stories he told about what happened that night, including that someone shot her through a bathroom wall or an intruder killed her, didn't add up, Johnson said.
Heidy Truman's family members have said that they support the jury's guilty verdict.