Defense, prosecution rest their cases in murder trial of John Wall

Posted at 7:19 PM, Mar 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-12 00:05:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY –All the evidence is in. The defense and prosecution rested their cases Wednesday afternoon in the trial for John Wall, the pediatrician accused of killing his ex-wife in 2011.

"All evidence has been entered--ladies and gentleman, we have concluded evidence in this case," Salt Lake City Third District Court Judge James Blanch announced.

Before the jury was dismissed, the state and defense called in rebuttal witnesses. Forensic pathologist Marcella Fierro testified she believes Uta von Schwedler's death was staged to look like a suicide.

“This was an altered scene, a staged scene,” Fierro said. “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.”

Fierro said her conclusions are partially based on the testimonies of witnesses who said there was no indication von Schwedler was depressed or suicidal at the time of her death.

“For somebody to commit an incredibly complex suicide, they have to be profoundly mentally ill,” she said. “More than 50 percent have been diagnosed as schizophrenic, bipolar, profoundly depressed.”

Fierro said it's typical for family and friends to rule a death suspicious after a victim has been poisoned. She said an injury to von Schwedler's lower lip could indicate she was forced to ingest Xanax, which was discovered in her system in high amounts.

Anna Rossi, prosecuting attorney: “Do you have an opinion as to the route of administration in this case?”

Marcella Fierro, forensic pathologist: “I’m a fan of simplicity. I think just making that slurry and sticking it in her mouth and giving her the bruise would’ve worked just fine.”

The defense argues von Schwedler may have been hiding emotional trouble from her closest friends and family.

Fred Metos, defense attorney: "With human nature, you can't say somebody is always going to do something a certain way?"

Marcella Fierro, forensic pathologist:
"That's a true statement."

After closing arguments on Thursday, the judge will instruct the jury before deliberations. A verdict could be reached by the end of the week. If convicted, John Wall could spend the rest of his life in prison.