Conrad Truman

Full title: CONRAD TRUMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. OREM CITY, a Utah municipality…

Court: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS TENTH CIRCUIT

Date published: Jun 25, 2021

Facts

Heidy Truman, a woman who died from a fatal gunshot wound on September 30, 2012, was found dead in her kitchen. Her husband, Conrad Truman, claimed that he heard a door open and heard a “pop” before finding her falling to the ground. The medical examiner initially listed her manner of death as “could not be determined,” but a PowerPoint presentation by Orem City police officers and state prosecutor Craig Johnson changed it to homicide. The medical examiner testified at the first trial, declaring that someone shot in the head with Mrs. Truman’s injuries would be able to take only a step or a step and one-half before collapsing.

Mr. Truman was charged with his wife’s murder and obstruction of justice. He alleges that the medical examiner testified that Mrs. Truman’s manner of death was homicide because she could not have moved the distance from the hallway to where her body lay if the wound were self-inflicted. However, the medical examiner’s subsequent scene reconstruction showed that Mrs. Truman only traveled approximately nine inches, a distance that is possible if she shot herself.

The prosecution presented a sketch of the house layout, but Detective Thomas Wallace made a transcription error and typed 13.9 feet instead of 139 inches as the length of the hallway in the Truman home. This caused the diagram to inaccurately depict the length of the hallway as being about two feet and four inches longer than it really is. The state court found that the prosecution introduced evidence such that the incorrect dimensions presented to the jury removed the issue of reasonable doubt on the theory of suicide. A new trial was ordered.

Mr. Truman was tried a second time, this time without the medical examiner testifying and the prosecution using an inaccurate drawing of the scene and body location. The second jury acquitted him.

Issue

Decision

We REVERSE the dismissal of the claim against the prosecutor and AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the police officers.

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