Salem man could face new trial in wife’s death, judges call for law to change

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 23:50:05-04

PROVO -- Utah County prosecutors are considering asking the state's top court to consider the case of a Salem man whose murder conviction was overturned.

Tracy Scott appeared before a judge here for the first time since the Utah Court of Appeals reversed his conviction last month on the grounds that he had inadequate legal counsel at trial. During the brief appearance on Thursday, lawyers said the Utah Supreme Court may be asked to take it up.

Scott was convicted in the 2013 murder of his wife, Teresa. In the ruling, the appeals court said the couple had a history of domestic violence. The judges wrote in their ruling that Scott admitted to killing her, but claimed "extreme emotional distress."

It was a defense that prompted two of the three judges who heard the case to call on the Utah State Legislature to fix the law.

"As applied here, the EED defense allows an abusive defendant such as Scott (who had committed domestic violence against Teresa and who had at one time been the subject of a restraining order) to claim that the cumulative emotional stress of a difficult marriage and a single alleged threat mitigated his otherwise unprovoked murder of his wife," Judge Michele Christiansen wrote.

"By doing so, the current statutory implementation of the EED defense gives continued life to antiquated notions of spousal control and perpetuates a belief that violence against women and intimate-partner homicide are acceptable and legitimate."

Read the Utah Court of Appeals ruling here

Judge Christiansen's words have prompted Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, to consider whether laws need to be changed.

"Sometimes there are gaps we have to fix," she said Thursday. "I'm going to look at the statute because for him to use extreme emotional distress, to be able to utilize that and get off because of that loophole is really troubling to me."

Speaking to FOX 13 outside of court on Thursday, Scott's sister, Eve Scott, said she hoped for a new trial.

"I want to see him get a fair trial," she said. "We don't feel like he's guilty of first-degree murder at all. Hopefully, things will come out that didn't in the first trial."