On Sept. 27, 2011, research scientist Uta von Schwedler was found dead in a bathtub in her Salt Lake City home. Uta's son, Pelle Wall, fought to see his own father, Johnny Wall, stand trial for her murder.
More than three years after Uta von Schwedler's death, the murder trial of Dr. Johnny Wall took place in the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City. This was a day his son, Pelle Wall, had been waiting for with much anticipation.
Pelle Wall, 21, had a front row seat to his father's four-week-long murder trial. The legal battle Pelle waged against his father cost him nearly his entire inheritance from his mother. He has no regrets.
During opening statements, Prosecutor Anna Rossi tells jurors that while the State's case is largely circumstantial, the evidence overwhelmingly points to Johnny Wall as Uta's killer. But Johnny's defense attorney Fred Metos insists Uta committed suicide.
First to take the stand, Uta's boyfriend, Nils Abramson, who testified to discovering Uta's body. During Abramson's cross examination, defense attorney Fred Metos zeroes in on him as a suspect. But when the prosecution asked if he killed Uta, Abramson replies, "No."
As the star prosecution witness, Pelle Wall took the stand and testified to Johnny Wall's bizarre behavior the day after Uta von Schwedler's body was discovered. Pelle told the jury that his father had a terrible eye injury and was absent from their home the morning Uta's body was found.
While testifying against his father, Pelle's focus was to talk directly to the jury. Pelle says he knew he would look at Johnny eventually, but that there would be no warm feelings between father and son.
The prosecution's blood expert, Rod Englert, testified that the blood spatter at the crime scene was consistent with a violent struggle. The prosecution believes Johnny Wall murdered a helpless Uta after he injected her with Xanax. Dr. Wall had written a prescription for Xanax just 4 months prior to her death.
The defense's blood expert, Anita Zannin, maintained that the blood stains at the scene only show movement. Zannin testified that there is no way to determine what caused that movement, eliminating the possibility that there could have been a struggle when Uta died.
Defense expert Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist, testified that the knife wounds on Uta's wrist and leg were consistent with self-injury and suicide. The prosecution, however, believes the scene was staged by Dr. Wall to look like a suicide.
The prosecution introduced Johnny's interrogation and deposition videos as evidence. Hours after Uta's body was found, Johnny was questioned by detectives and couldn't remember events that occurred just a day before. But 18 months later in his deposition, Johnny was able to account for his whereabouts.
Dr. Marcella Fierro, the prosecution's final witness, stamped out any notion that Uta von Schwedler might have been depressed causing her to commit suicide. After analyzing Uta's medical and psychological history, Dr. Fierro testified that Uta had no reason to kill herself.
Metos explained to the jury that Uta had been suffering from depression at the time of her death. Metos said that Uta was feeling left out of her children's lives, which led her to take the Xanax, self-injure and then drown in her own tub.
During the State's closing statements, Prosecutor Matthew Janzen insists that Uta's mental state was fine at the time of her death. She had no reason to kill herself. Janzen told the jury that Johnny Wall killed Uta because he was afraid of losing the custody battle.
After closing arguments Judge James Blanch gave the jury instructions and deliberations began. The jury would have to decide if Johnny Wall killed his ex-wife, Uta von Schwedler, or if Uta killed herself.
An eight-member jury deliberated for seven hours before reaching a verdict. Uta von Schwedler's family and friends had been waiting for this moment for over three years. Pelle and his family raced back to the courthouse as soon as they heard there was a verdict.
Johnny's sister, Wendy Wall, and the rest of his family were devastated by the verdict. The family released the following statement, "This verdict will not bring Uta back. Now, to that tragedy has been added the conviction of an innocent man."
After hearing that his father had been found guilty, Pelle Wall said, "It was like a huge weight had just dropped off. Lot of relief, a lot of happiness." For Pelle, his family and friends, justice had been served and they could finally start to heal and move on with their lives.
In July 2015, Johnny Wall was sentenced to 15-years-to-life.
Pelle Wall finally had his father's conviction, but no verdict could fill the void of the mother he lost. For Pelle he wants people to remember the real Uta, a woman full of life and color. The woman with the curly red hair.